Commitments with TLP to be taken up in cabinet: minister

Published October 26, 2021
Sheikh Rashid Ahmed speaks at the press conference.—PPI
Sheikh Rashid Ahmed speaks at the press conference.—PPI

• Claims PM asked FBR to unfreeze accounts of TLP’s seminaries
• Insists state’s duty was to find path of reconciliation
• Says govt to fulfil its promises
• Agreement to be presented before National Assembly

ISLAMABAD: A day after releasing over 350 activists of the outlawed Tehreek-i-Labbaik Pakistan (TLP) under an agreement, the government on Monday vowed to keep its promise made with the religious outfit and take up the matter at Wednesday’s federal cabinet meeting.

“We will honour commitments made with the TLP,” Interior Minister Sheikh Rashid Ahmed told a press conference.

He said the matter would also be discussed during the federal cabinet meeting on Wednesday.

Ruling out the immediate release of TLP chief Saad Rizvi, he said there were legal hitches which Rizvi understood.

“Decisions cannot be taken right now; there is a legal process that we will follow,” Mr Ahmed said, adding that “we will talk to the prime minister after his return tomorrow (Oct 26)”.

He said he found the TLP chief, Saad Rizvi, to be “very cooperative” compared to other leaders of the proscribed organisation.

He said the government’s negotiations with the TLP went “very well”, adding that he had requested not to be included in the government’s negotiating committee because “it is not the job of the interior ministry but the Punjab government”. However, he said, he became part of the team on the insistence of Rizvi and another TLP leader, Ghulam Ghaus Baghdadi.

“We are keeping our word. There is information that one road has been opened which is very good. We will fulfil the promises we made to them,” Mr Ahmed said, adding that the negotiating team would meet Prime Minister Imran Khan after his return from Saudi Arabia and raise the matter in Wednesday’s cabinet meeting.

He said the premier had instructed his principal secretary before leaving for Saudi Arabia to ask the Federal Board of Revenue (FBR) to unfreeze the accounts of TLP’s seminaries and allow them to open new ones.

“It would be better that way because the FBR would know about the funds being received and spent by the madressahs,” he added.

Mr Ahmed said he wanted to conclude the matter once and for all because “something new happens every six months and people faced difficulties” — a reference to TLP’s frequent protests which brought the life in twin cities to a halt.

“It is my desire that matters conclude in the way they have been discussed with the TLP,” he said, adding that he had signed an agreement with the organisation and would present it in the National Assembly.

Replying to a question about the damage caused during TLP’s protests, the interior minister said: “Vandalism is illegal and no one should be involved in it.”

It may be mentioned here that the federal government released more than 350 TLP activists and announced that cases against others would be withdrawn by Wednesday (Oct 27).

On Sunday, Sheikh Rashid had said the government had assured the TLP leaders that it would review the Fourth Schedule list containing their names and work on a plan to release Saad Rizvi.

Published in Dawn, October 26th, 2021

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