Authorities refuse to share details of agreement with public, claiming its results will become visible in 7-10 days
The Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI)-led government on Sunday announced that it had reached an “agreement” with the proscribed Tehreek-e-Labaik Pakistan (TLP) to end its ongoing protest, but refused to share any details, stressing they would be revealed “at an appropriate time.”
“The Government of Pakistan and the TLP held detailed negotiations in an environment of mutual trust and an agreement has been reached between them,” Mufti Munibur Rehman announced at a press conference in Islamabad alongside members of the government’s negotiating team—Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi, National Assembly Speaker Asad Qaiser and Minister of State for Parliamentary Affairs Ali Mohammad Khan.
The mufti, part of a group of ulema who facilitated the talks between the TLP and the government, said that TLP chief Saad Hussain Rizvi had signed off on the undisclosed agreement. He said that a steering committee, headed by Ali Mohammad Khan and comprising Punjab Law Minister Raja Basharat, the federal interior secretary and Punjab home secretary, would oversee the implementation of the agreement from the government’s side. TLP representatives Mufti Ghulam Ghaus Baghdadi and Hafeezullah Alvi would represent the TLP, he added.
Claiming the details of the agreement would be shared with the public “at an appropriate time,” Mufti Munib urged the media to not malign it and to only share “positive” aspects. He said the impact of the agreement would become visible to the public in 7-10 days, adding that “actions speak louder than words.”
The foreign minister, meanwhile, merely congratulated the nation on the “peaceful resolution” of the two-week-long impasse between the TLP and the government. He also refused to take any questions from journalists.
While there has been no official confirmation of the terms of the agreement, sources with knowledge of the talks said that the government had agreed to unfreeze the assets of the proscribed outfit and lift the “ban” on it. The government, they said, had also agreed to drop all cases against TLP workers so long as they had not been registered under the Anti-Terrorism Act, which would be decided by courts.
Speaking to media after the press conference, the mufti said that the TLP would end its ongoing sit-in in Wazirabad “slowly” after observing the implementation of the deal. He claimed that both sides had agreed that the TLP would now function as a “political party” and would not immediately resort to sit-ins and protests.
The TLP started its latest protest in Lahore on Oct. 19. After staging at sit-in outside their headquarters in the Punjab capital for three days, they started a long march on Islamabad on Oct. 22. The long march’s procession has moved just 150km in that time, with TLP workers violently clashing with police at various points. According to the Punjab Police, seven police officials have been martyred and hundreds injured in the clashes; the TLP claims that dozens of its workers have similarly been killed and hundreds injured by intense shelling.
On Sunday evening, a TLP leader in Wazirabad directed the group’s protesters to continue their sit-in, adding that they would only call off their protest on instructions of their senior leadership. Still, several TLP marchers have left the sit-in over the past 24 hours and local administration has started to remove barricades erected to prevent the marchers from traveling to Islamabad.