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Islamabad sit-in continues for 18th day after govt fails to break deadlock

ISLAMABAD: Hundreds of activists and supporters of Tehreek Labaik Ya Rasool Allah on Thursday remained camped out at the Faizabad Interchange for the 18th consecutive day as the government failed to break the stalemate.

The protesters have blocked the Faizabad Interchange, which connects Rawalpindi and Islamabad, multiplying hardships of the people of the twin cities.

The Supreme Court has taken cognizance of the sit-in that has paralyzed life in the twin cities of Rawalpindi and Islamabad for the last two weeks.

The top court had summoned a detailed report from the defence and interior secretaries on the matter. They have been asked to explain the steps being taken to ensure fundamental rights of citizens.

However, the two-judge bench of Supreme Court on Thursday (today) expressed grave disappointment on reports submitted by Defence and Interior ministries.

Justice Qazi Faez remarked that the names highlighted in the report were already known to everyone while enquiring about the government inaction on the matter.

“Who is being benefited from the protest,” he asked while passing orders to the authorities concerned to probe elements funding the sit-in.

On the occasion, Attorney General Ashtar Ausaf Ali informed the bench about the government’s initiatives to end the protest peacefully.

The attorney general said government has undertaken measures to curb the protesters’ activities.

Expressing dissatisfaction, the bench directed the authorities to probe the people funding and backing the protest. The court then adjourned the hearing till next Thursday (Nov 30).

Earlier, the two-judge bench comprising Justice Mushir Alam and Justice Qazi Faez Isa took notice of the sit-in on the request of a lawyer.

Justice Isa then observed that the protesters violated the Article 14, 15 and 19 of the country’s constitution, which related to fundamental right of citizens to freedom of movement.

IHC deadline to evict protest lapses

The Islamabad High Court (IHC) had granted 48 hours of time to Interior Minister Ahsan Iqbal to evict the protesters from the busy artery of the federal capital, coming to an end today. However, the government still faces an uphill task for finding a peaceful end to the sit-in.

Requesting the court for more time, Interior Minister Ahsan Iqbal on Monday renewed hopes for a successful negotiation with protesters.

“The government does not want a showdown resulting in another Lal Mosque [Lal Masjid] or Model Town incident,” he said while appearing optimistic for productive talks with the protesters.

He said there is no legal justification of protest after a bill passed unanimously by both houses of the parliament concerning the finality of Prophethood (Khatm-e-Nabuwwat).

However, the IHC could not hold hearing on petition today in absence of Justice Shaukat Aziz Siddiqui.

‘Protesters sole demand’

Tehreek Labaik Ya Rasool Allah has been protesting for over a fortnight, demanding action against those responsible for making now-withdrawn amendment to the clause pertaining to the Khatm-i-Nabuwwat oath for electoral candidates and the sacking of Law Minister Zahid Hamid.

The interior minister, in his press conference on Sunday, said its the masses suffering from the sit-in as traffic movement has been suspended in the twin-cities. The government delegation led by senior PML-N leader Raja Zafar-ul-Haq held marathon negotiations to break a deadlock but protesters are adamant on their demand of resignation of law minister Zahid Hamid, he said.

“If the government send the law minister packing, it would eventually set a wrong precedent,” he underlined, adding, there was no proof that he was responsible for the mistake (amendment).

On the occasion, Iqbal called upon the countrywide clerics to convince the protesters to call off their sit-in peacefully.




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