TLP ends protest after 12-point deal with govt

Published June 18, 2023
Interior Minister Rana Sanaullah (left) and TLP’s Dr Mohammad Shafiq Amini speak to the media in Islamabad. — DawnNewsTV
Interior Minister Rana Sanaullah (left) and TLP’s Dr Mohammad Shafiq Amini speak to the media in Islamabad. — DawnNewsTV

ISLAMABAD: the Tehreek-i-Labbaik Pakistan (TLP) has called off its protest after reaching an agreement with the government on assorted issues, including the ease of restrictions on the party and a reduction in fuel prices.

The party started its “Pakistan Bachao March” from Karachi on May 22, with Islamabad being the final destination. However, the protesters have been camping near Sarai Alamgir tehsil of Gujrat district as TLP’s top leadership engaged with the government to end the march.

The 12-point agreement was signed by federal ministers Rana Sanaullah and Ayaz Sadiq from the government’s side and Dr Mohammad Shafiq Amini and Allama Ghulam Abbas Faizi from TLP.

According to the agreement, speedy trials of the blasphemy accused will be ensured, along with swift decisions on appeals filed by those awarded punishments by the courts.

Speedy trials of blasphemy accused, reduction in petrol prices agreed upon

The two sides also agreed to implement filters to block blasphemous content on social media.

The capacity of institutions responsible for dealing with blasphemy cases will be strengthened, and a Counter Blasphe­­my Wing will be established under the FIA.

Those accused of committing blasphemy and charged with Section 295-C of the Pakistan Penal Code will also be booked under the Anti-Terrorism Act, 1997.

As per the agreement, the Foreign Office will write to US authorities within three days for the release of Dr Afia Siddiqui, who is incarcerated in a medical facility in Texas.

The government has also agreed to lift the ban on the coverage of TLP on electronic and social media while all political cases filed against TLP workers and leaders will be withdrawn.

The interior ministry will issue a letter clarifying that was not a terror outfit but a political party duly registered with the Election Commission of Pakistan. The letter will also state that there were no restrictions on TLP’s coverage on social and electronic media and the party has complete freedom as enjoyed by all other political parties.

TLP leaders whose names have been taken off the Fourth Schedule of the Anti-Terrorism Act, 1997 will have the freedom of movement and the federal government will issue directives to provincial governments in this regard.

The schedule is essentially a list of individuals with established linkages to proscribed organisations. Provincial home departments add individuals to the fourth schedule who are then subjected to travel, speech and business restrictions.

The agreement also mentioned that petrol and diesel prices will be reduced on June 30 and July 15. The government will consider reduced oil prices in the international market, the arrival of cheap Russian oil and improved value of rupee against the US dollar to pass on the relief to consumers.

The government and TLP have also agreed that Urdu will be promoted as the official language for written communications in government offices.

Talking to the media after the agreement, the interior minister, Mr Sanaullah, said talks were primarily focused on curbing the cases of blasphemy.

Regarding the TLP’s demand for the release of Dr Aafia, the interior minister said her incarceration was a national issue “that saddened every Pakistani”.

He urged human rights organisations to pay attention to her situation and assured that the government would write a letter to US authorities on the matter.

Mr Sanaullah also said Finance Minister Ishaq Dar has briefed TLP leaders about the mechanism to determine petrol prices.

These include international oil rates and rupee-dollar parity and the TLP has been assured that the government will pass on the benefit of price reduction — in the wake of the arrival of Russian oil — to the public.

The TLP leader, Dr Amini, appre-ciated the government’s approach, noting that, unlike the previous administration, it had chosen dialogue over confrontation.

Separately, addressing a gathering of traders in Faisalabad, Mr Sanaullah criticised PTI Chairman Imran Khan and said his party leaders left him after the May 9 attacks.

He said PTI reneged on commitments with the IMF, people can not be given any subsidy as the lender was asking the PDM government to implement the deal done by the PTI. He said in 2013, people were facing 20 hours of load shedding and terrorism, but the PML-N government ended power shortage in its four years rule.

Published in Dawn, June 18th, 2023

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