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Mufti Muneeb terms govt-TLP agreement victory of Islam, Pakistan

PTI govt negotiation team, including FM Qureshi, NA speaker and Mufti Muneeb address press conference on talks with TLP

By Ayaz Akbar Yousafzai & Azaz Syed
October 31, 2021

Mufti Muneeb terms govt-TLP agreement victory of Islam, Pakistan

ISLAMABAD: Religious scholar and former chairman of Ruet-e-Hilal Committee Mufti Muneeb Sunday announced that talks with the banned TLP have been "successful" and that an "agreement" had been reached.

Officials from the PTI government's negotiating team held a press conference today to update the public about their talks with the proscribed Tehreek-e-Labbaik Pakistan (TLP).

Addressing a joint press conference, flanked by Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi, National Assembly Speaker Asad Qaiser and others, Mufti Muneeb termed the agreement between the government and the proscribed organisation a victory of Islam and Pakistan.

Details of the agreement, however, he said will be revealed at a "suitable time". He added that the positive outcomes of the agreement will be seen in the coming days.

He said that the agreement reached with the government was not a victory or defeat of any individual, but a victory of Islam and Pakistan.

Rehman shared that a steering committee has been constituted under the agreement which will be headed by Minister of State for Parliamentary Affairs Ali Muhammad Khan, while Mufti Ghulam Ghous Baghdadi from TLP will join the committee. He said the committee will become active from today and start its work.

"The government of Pakistan and the TLP had a detailed discussion under the environment of mutual trust, and an agreement has been reached between the two sides," Rehman announced, clarifying that the talks did not take place under any duress or in an atmosphere of tension.

He said that rationality had prevailed over sentimentalism and a consensus had been reached between the government and the banned TLP movement.

'NSC meeting decided that talks with TLP should be given priority'

Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi briefly spoke after Rehman, saying that it was decided in a meeting of the National Security Committee that the talks with TLP should be given priority and that the problem should be dealt with wisely.

Speaking about the agreement, Qureshi said that a path of peace and improvement had been found. He said damage to property and loss of life was seen in just a few days, referring to the banned outfit's protests.

He said Pakistan did not benefit from the chaos.

Qureshi ended his brief address with a statement that there would be no question and answer session with media personnel.

The government was scheduled to address the press conference earlier in the day at 11:15am initially, according to a handout by the Press Information Department (PID). The news conference was, however, delayed and after being rescheduled twice, was finally held at 2:45pm.

Earlier, sources privy to the development had said that the activists of the banned organization will first end their sit-in from the Grand Trunk Road (GT Road), under the agreement. Meanwhile, the government will complete the legal formalities to release the arrested workers of TLP.

The well-placed sources had said that the successful round of talks was held last night between the high-powered government team and the top leadership of the TLP.

Too early to call talks with govt ‘successful’: TLP

Before the press conference, earlier in the day, a TLP spokesperson had rejected media reports on the talks between the federal government and TLP being successful. He had said that it will be "too early to say anything about the negotiation".

He had urged people to "refrain from spreading rumors" and clarified that negotiations with the government were still underway.

“There is no truth in the reports being aired on TV channels about the successful dialogue,” he had added.

The TLP spokesperson said that the success or failure of the talks with the government will be announced by his party leadership.

A day earlier, Prime Minister Imran Khan had said that it would be appreciated if religious scholars played the role of a bridge between the government and TLP, as he did not want bloodshed but insisted there could be no compromise on the country’s security and the government writ.

Meanwhile, roads had remained blocked and traffic suspended in Wazirabad on Saturday as TLP protesters remained encamped near the city for the second straight day.

The prime minister observed this during an interaction with a delegation of religious scholars and leaders on Saturday. The premier emphasised that peace and security is in everyone’s interest. The religious scholars called for negotiations to wriggle out of the present situation.

In the meeting, Prime Minister Imran Khan said that expulsion of the French ambassador is not the solution to any problem and he cannot be expelled. He contended that fighting with France will isolate Pakistan internationally.

The prime minister also said that the cases of banned TLP supremo Saad Rizvi are pending in the courts. If the court releases Saad Rizvi, they will have no objection. “No one can blackmail me, nor will I be blackmailed,” he remarked and pointed out that while the police were strictly forbidden to shoot, but shots were fired from the other side.

Imran told the Ulema that they must convince the (TLP) people to refrain from bloodshed and not to resort to violence. He said neither should they (TLP) resort to violence nor should they force the state to use force, and assured the Ulema government will have no hesitation in accepting TLP’s legitimate demands.

There were also reports that initially, the delegation of Ulema had refused to meet the prime minister in the presence of two federal ministers after which the prime minister directed them not to participate in the talks. On their part, the Ulema told the prime minister that he was not being apprised of the real situation as statements of government personalities were worsening the situation and full powers should be given for negotiations.

Committee formed to negotiate between govt, TLP

Meanwhile, in a chat with media persons after the meeting, Federal Minister for Religious Affairs Pir Noorul Haq Qadri said that a 11-member committee of Ulema and Mashaikh was formed, which would remain in contact with the government and was already in contact with TLP leadership.

He noted that the prime minister said that serious talks would always be welcome. Sounding optimistic, the minister maintained that the situation would improve soon. “I am quite hopeful that by the blessings of Allah Almighty, there would be betterment in the situation after the participation of the Ulema in the process,” he remarked. He contended that the process would move forward. The minister added that Premier Imran was optimistic that soon, a solution would be found to the situation.

“The minister is telling lies,” was his sharp reply to a question, when asked if it was a fact that prime minister did not have the knowledge about an earlier agreement signed with TLP. Qadri emphasised how could he dare to contract an agreement without approval of the prime minister. The former federal minister PTI Senator Faisal Vawda had claimed that the prime minister was not informed of the agreement and he was in formed of the decisions afterwards. The senator from Karachi also claimed that the agreement was absolutely wrong.

More to follow...