In statement, information minister says ‘other issues related to national security’ will also come under deliberation
Prime Minister Imran Khan on Thursday summoned a meeting of the National Security Committee (NSC) for today (Friday) to discuss the impact of the ongoing protests of the proscribed Tehreek-e-Labaik Pakistan on the country.
“In view of the situation arising because of the illegal activities of the proscribed organization, Prime Minister Imran Khan has convened a meeting of the National Security Committee tomorrow. Other issues related to national security will also be considered in this meeting,” Information Minister Chaudhry Fawad Hussain wrote on Twitter.
The TLP commenced its latest protest movement—the sixth since its formation in 2015—last week on the 12th of Rabiul Awwal. Initially restricted to a sit-in at the group’s headquarters in Punjab capital Lahore, it has since formed a caravan that has been slowly inching its way toward the federal capital. On Thursday evening, it reached Kamoke, near Gujranwala, with organizers announcing that they would resume their long march in the morning.
In a bid to prevent the TLP’s long march from reaching Islamabad, security forces have cordoned off major roads, disrupting transport and local movement in areas the group demonstrates in. While the group is still hundreds of kilometers from the capital, the government has already sealed the main highways connecting Islamabad and Rawalpindi, and vowed to ensure that they are prevented from moving beyond Jhelum.
The TLP protest has also exposed significant confusion within the government ranks, with the information minister announcing earlier this week that the group would be treated like a “militant” organization. Authorities also deployed the paramilitary Rangers in Punjab province for the next 60 days to maintain law and order. Planning Minister Asad Umar went so far as to allege that the TLP was receiving “external” support, implying it was funded by foreign states.
However, just a day later, Interior Minister Sheikh Rashid Ahmed said negotiations with the group were ongoing and the government was willing to fulfill its earlier agreements with them.
Thus far, five policemen have been martyred in violent clashes between security forces and TLP workers. The TLP claims dozens of its workers have also been killed and hundreds injured, but this could not be independently verified.