ISLAMABAD: After holding talks with the government’s team headed by National Assembly Deputy Speaker Qasim Suri, representatives of All Pakistan Clerks Association (APCA) decided to postpone their protest on Tuesday night.

Thousands of government employees from various parts of the country had swarmed into the heavily guarded Red Zone to stage a sit-in at Constitution Avenue demanding an increase in their salaries and allowances.

The APCA representatives informed the government team about their reservations regarding proposals to discontinue pension, gratuity and withdraw annual increment besides reducing retirement age to 55 years.

However, the deputy speaker told them that there were no proposals to do away with pension, gratuity and annual increment and reducing the retirement age of government employees.

It was decided that a committee would be formed regarding other demands of the employees. The committee will implement the recommendations of the Pay and Pension Committee.

“The government is ready to work towards solving the issues of employees,” Mr Suri told the representatives of the protesters.

Earlier, over 10,000 government employees gathered at Jinnah Avenue to launch a protest.

Security in and around the area was strengthened as a directive had been issued to stop them from entering.

The employees had come to stage a protest at Constitution Avenue calling for the government to meet their demands, including a 100pc increase in medical allowance, increase in salaries as per the price hike along with an explanation about the increment and pension policy etc.

Officials from the capital administration along with police approached the protesters to warn them against marching towards the Red Zone but they kept moving forward. As the protesters reached the old Parade Ground, water canons were used to stop them from marching forward but the effort remained unsuccessful.

Shortly afterwards, there were a brief physical confrontation between the police and the protesting employees but no injuries were reported. Officials realised that it was impossible to stop the protesters and use of force may have dire consequences, according to police.

Senior officers of the administration and police were informed about the situation and after consultation with concerned quarters, they asked officials on the spot not to intercept the protesters.

As they staged a sit-in at Constitution Avenue, leaders of different political parties visited them to express solidarity.

Published in Dawn, October 7th, 2020

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