Islamabad -  As residents of the twin cities suffered immense misery after being stranded on the roads for hours due to widespread traffic snarls, the capital administration made an almost apologetic outreach to the leaders of Khadim Hussain Rizvi faction of Tehreek Labiak Ya Rasool Allah. Sources said the government officials seemed keen to discuss the demands of the religious group as its leaders felt more and more galvanized due to the meek response by law enforcement authorities.

A three-member parliamentary delegation was scheduled to meet the representatives of the protesters at the Punjab House yesterday but no meeting took place by the early evening. “They were in close contact with the government even before their arrival in Islamabad,” an official said, seeking anonymity, referring to the religious group. The official insisted that there was no deadlock between the two sides.

The rally was organized from Lahore to Islamabad by the religious group to press the government for their demands in the wake of the amendment in the affidavit of Khatam-e-Nabuwat. Earlier, the long march started Monday morning from Lahore and the leadership included Maulana Khadim Hussain Rizvi, Peer M Afzal Qadri from Gujrat, Gulam Abbas from Lahore, Ijaz Hussain Ashrafi Secretary TLYR, Shaikh Ijaz from Lahore, Peer Abdul Khaliq Sabri from Nankana Sahib, Usman Madni from Chiniot, Afzal Qadri from Gujaranwala, M Anwar Gujjar from Sheikhupura.

The six-point demands of the leadership urge the government to end restrictions on registration of FIR under 295/C, hang all culprits involved in blasphemy, take action against those involved in amending affidavit of Khatme Nabuwat, abolish loudspeaker act, end cases against leaders and workers of the Tehreek, and include Islamic teachings in the curriculum which were previously excluded. The group has announced to hold a sit-in in the federal capital till fulfillment of its demands.

The Khadim Hussain Rizvi faction of the Tehreek had dissociated itself from Dr. Asif Ashraf Jalali’s Tehreek Labaik Ya Rasool Allah, which ended its six-day sit-in in Lahore and Islamabad a few days back. Dr. Asif had led the rally in Islamabad on Tuesday but it failed to get the attention of the government due to the thin participation of the people. Later, Rizvi faction of the Tehreek announced a long march towards Islamabad. Threek Labaik Ya Rasool Allah of Allama Khadim Rizvi is registered with the Election Commission of Pakistan with name of Tehreek Labaik Pakistan while Dr. Asif’s group calls its political wing as Tehreek Labbaik-al-Aalmi.

 “The leaders of the group have so far expressed no stubbornness; they are willing to talk with the government, which suggests that the issue will be resolved amicably,” said the official.

To a question, the official hoped that the protesters might leave the capital as soon as their demands were met adding there could be a breakthrough on Thursday. Given the strict list of demands, it remained unclear what made the official so optimistic. The official, however, also said that the government was all prepared to deal with any untoward situation as around 10,000 law-enforcers have been deputed for security.

According to the sources, district administration and local police have made arrangements to block the protesters from entering the Red Zone. All entry and exit points of the Red Zone, including D-Chowk, have been completely sealed.

Meanwhile, the road-users faced severe inconvenience due to massive gridlocks in the capital city. Main arteries were blocked by placing containers amidst a diversion plan for the twin cities due to the rally. According to the plan, Kalsoom Plaza, Jinnah Avenue, Punjab Express Chowk will remain closed on both sides for traffic.

The commuters would use Fazl-e-Haq, Nazim-ud-Din and Margalla Roads for commuting. Traffic on both sides will remain closed on the road from State Bank Chowk towards Radio Pakistan. The commuters may use Embassy Road and Margalla Road for commuting. Traffic on both sides will remain closed on the road from Kurian Wala Chowk towards Dhokri Kashmir Highway.

People coming from Murree or Bhara Kahu may use Murree Road, Kashmir Chowk for commuting and vice versa. Faizabad interchange has been closed towards Murree road on both sides and Islamabad Expressway towards Murree road is also closed. IJP Road, I-9, Peshawar Mor, Kashmir Highway is open and can be used for commuting, according to the traffic police. Kashmir Highway towards Serena Chowk, Rawal Dam Chowk, and Park Road are also open for traffic. The closure of roads led to severe traffic congestion on the rest of the city’s roads.