ISLAMABAD: The federal government has decided to summon the Punjab Rangers to maintain the law and order situation in the province amid the proscribed Tehreek-e-Labbaik Pakistan's (TLP) ongoing protests.
Speaking during a press conference in Islamabad, the interior minister said that the government wants to establish peace as there is a lot of international pressure on Pakistan.
"We have decided to summon the Rangers for a period of 60 days to maintain law and order situation in the province," Rasheed said. "Like Karachi, Rangers have been called in Punjab under Section 4 (2) of the Anti-Terrorism Act 1997, read with Article 147 of the Constitution of Pakistan."
The minister said that since the ambassador of France is not present in Pakistan, the proscribed organisation seems to have "another agenda" — as one of their demands from the government was the expulsion of the said envoy.
"Yesterday, I had warned that foreign powers want to impose sanctions on Pakistan," Rasheed said. "The TLP has turned into a militant organisation as its members had opened fire on policemen using Kalashnikovs."
"I am still warning the protesters to return home," Rasheed said, adding that the government cannot keep schools and hospitals closed due to the protests.
"The TLP is banned in Pakistan and now it is feared that it may be banned internationally too," Rasheed warned, adding that Pakistan won't be able to intervene if such a thing happens.
The minister said that the government tried holding talks with the proscribed organisation and kept its word, but "the TLP broke its promises."
"It is not possible for the government to shut down the French embassy," the interior minister said, adding that the government had already reached an agreement with the proscribed organisation and it will stand by the signed deal.
"The government has to establish its writ and is not happy with the loss of innocent lives," Rasheed said referring to the martyrdom of four policemen.
4 policemen martyred, 263 injured in clashes
Meanwhile, Inspector General Punjab, Rao Sardar Ali Khan, while holding a press conference today, said that the police would do everything to establish peace in the province.
"Four of our policemen have embraced martyrdom, while 263 have sustained injuries after members of the prescribed organisation opened fire on the forces during their protest," the IG Punjab said.
"We won't let this gang get away with its actions," the IG added.
'TLP not a religious organisation'
Earlier, briefing the media on the cabinet's decision today, Minister for Information and Broadcasting Fawad Chaudhry said "TLP is not a religious organisation, it is a militant wing".
The minister said the cabinet had decided to deal with TLP like a militant organisation, as he slammed the proscribed political party for blocking roads and central arteries for their protests.
"They have already put up a show six times. The proscribed TLP cannot blackmail the state; it has no status. In the past, we have defeated terrorist organisations," he said.
The information minister, noting that six police officials were martyred during the protest, asked that till when would the state act as a silent spectator.
"We do not want bloodshed," he said and slammed the TLP for blocking the roads "without reason".
He asked the proscribed organisation to not underestimate the state's writ, as the government had waited long enough.
Chaudhry said several people joined the protesters with AK-47s in their hands.
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