Mufti Muneebur Rehman dispelled on Monday the impression that the proscribed Tehreek-i-Labbaik Pakistan (TLP) had demanded the expulsion of the French ambassador and the closure of the embassy.
"Lies were spoken on television about the talks [with the TLP], that they had demanded the expulsion of the French ambassador, the closure of the embassy and to break ties with the European Union. This was a blatant lie," the cleric said during a press conference in Karachi.
"So how can trust be established when government officials speak lies publicly?" he questioned, adding that those who participated in the negotiations did not have personal agendas and were patriots, calling the whole process a "marathon intellectual exercise".
Mufti Muneeb was among the clerics who facilitated talks between the government and the proscribed group, helping both sides reach an agreement after an impasse of three weeks.
'Liberals more incensed than enemies'
He further said the country's "liberals" were more incensed than Pakistan's external enemies over the government's recent agreement with the TLP.
He was responding to a question from a reporter about Information Minister Fawad Chaudhry's statement that there was "at least some good news" after India lost to New Zealand during the ongoing T20 World Cup.
Asked whether ministers that the negotiating team had objected to were included in the negotiations, the cleric shook his head. "When we went, you should understand [the implication]."
He also stated that the "liberals" who were instigating the government, would be the first ones to jump ship when faced with choppy waters. "We've seen them before in one ship, then another and now in this ship."
The cleric said that liberals were crying about the writ of the state, similar to what had happened during the Lal Masjid operation in 2007.
"Till 12 at night they talked about the writ of the state, but when the unfortunate operation took place they opposed it," he said, branding such people as the enemies of the government.
Talks with TLP
The cleric's comments come a day after members of the negotiating team from the government side claimed that they had reached an agreement with the proscribed group in order to end the nearly three-week-long impasse, but refused to divulge its details.
Mufti Muneeb, who along with some other clerics facilitated the talks, said the agreement had the backing of jailed TLP chief Saad Rizvi.
Refusing to share contents of the deal, the cleric said its details would be made public at an "appropriate time". He, however, said its "positive result" would be visible to the nation next week or during the next 10 days. He then used an English proverb “action speaks louder than words” to justify the move to keep details of the deal secret.
Prior to this, a team of 19 senior clerics had met Prime Minister Imran Khan at his Banigala residence on Saturday. The delegation was led by Minister for Religious Affairs Pir Noorul Haq Qadri.
However, the senior clerics, all of whom were Barelvis, had objected to the presence of Special Representative to Prime Minister on Religious Harmony Hafiz Tahir Ashrafi in the meeting, after which he left. The information minister, who was on his way to Banigala, was also told not to come as the delegation had objected to his presence as well. The minister’s announced press talk was also cancelled.
Both Tahir Ashrafi and Fawad Chaudhry were not visible in the official footage released by the PM secretariat after the meeting.
When contacted, Fawad Chaudhry said he was not even invited to the meeting. He said the announcement made by the PID regarding his news conference was mistakenly released as the presser was in fact scheduled by Interior Minister Sheikh Rashid Ahmed, but was later done by the religious affairs minister.
On the other hand, Tahir Ashrafi responded to media queries through a tweet, claiming that he and Fawad Chaudhry were not there because they had to go to some other meeting.