Farmers' protest in Islamabad called off after breakthrough in negotiations with government

Published October 4, 2022
Interior Minister Rana Sanaullah speaks to the media in Islamabad on Tuesday. — DawnNewsTV
Interior Minister Rana Sanaullah speaks to the media in Islamabad on Tuesday. — DawnNewsTV

After nearly a week of protests and sit-ins in Islamabad, representatives of farmers on Tuesday called off their demonstrations after a breakthrough was achieved in negotiations with the government.

The Kissan Ittehad, comprising farmers from across Punjab, was demanding the restoration of the previous tubewell electricity tariff of Rs5.3 per unit and the removal of taxes and adjustments among other things.

Kissan Ittehad Chairman Khalid Butt, at a media talk alongside Interior Minister Rana Sanaullah, called off the protest.

Sanaullah said that the government had agreed to the farmers' demands, which included delay and installments in payments of power bills and cancellation of fuel adjustment charges.

On other demands, the interior minister said that Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif has constituted a ministerial committee — with Sanaullah on the board — that would hold meetings with farmers' representatives and negotiate finer terms of the agreement.

Sanaullah also said that the prime minister would announce a package for farmers in a week or 10 days which would bring tremendous benefit to the farming community and the agriculture sector.

"It is our philosophy that Pakistan will be prosperous when farmers are prosperous. So we will consider all things in a better manner and solve these problems."

The interior minister thanked the Kissan Ittehad and the protesting farmers for bearing "difficulty" and requested them to disperse since negotiations were successful.

He said the nominated delegation members from the Kissan Ittehad should stay for further negotiations and the rest should go back. "It is our responsibility to solve your demands and we will do it," Sanaullah added.

The interior minister further assured that the committee would work in a "very good" way and the farmers would not need to return.

PTI long march

Meanwhile, in response to a question on the arrangements to deal with an expected PTI long march to Islamabad — yet to be announced — Sanaullah said: "We have full preparations to tackle that.

"I had a meeting today for their [PTI's] treatment and a very satisfying formula has been prepared for them, according to which they will be dealt with."

The interior minister also said that the Pakistan Army would be called in to deal with the march, in accordance with Article 245 of the Constitution. He added that personnel of the Pakistan Rangers, Frontier Constabulary, Islamabad police, and Sindh police would also be utilised.

Sanaullah claimed that PTI Chairman Imran Khan no longer enjoyed the support of the institutions.

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