LAHORE - The countrywide protest organised by the Tehreek-e-Labbaik Pakistan (TLP) came to an end after three days on Friday as the religious party and the government signed a five-point agreement.

The protesters dispersed peacefully in different areas after the agreement. The TLP, which initially adopted an aggressive approach, came to terms within hours of assassination of JUI-S chief Maulana Samiul Haq.

The five-point agreement between the two sides reads the government will not raise any objection to the review petition filed by the respondents in the Aasia Bibi case. A set procedure will be adopted for putting name of Aasia on the ECL. The legal procedure will be adopted to record evidence, if any, against the acquittal of Aasia. TLP activists arrested during protests against acquittal of Aasia will be released. Implicitly referring to use of improper words against the state institutions, the TLP sought apology if it hurt feelings of anyone during the agitation.

The agreement bore the signs of Religious Affairs Minister Noorul Haq Qadri, Punjab Law Minister Raja Basharat, TLP Chairman Pir Afzal Qadri and TLP central Nazim-e-Aala Waheed Noor.

Earlier, the TLP organised protest demonstrations across the country on the third consecutive day on Friday, blocking major roads and shutting down all kinds of businesses. The leaders of some other important religious parties, however, stressed the need for resolving the issue through dialogue.

The TLP organised massive protest rallies mainly in Lahore, Rawalpindi-Islamabad, Gujrat, Sialkot, Chakwal, Kasur, Sahiwal, Okara, Faisalabad, Multan, Hyderabad, Karachi and some cities of KP and Balochistan.

In Lahore, the main protest sites were Faisal Chowk (The Mall) and Data Darbar. TLP head Khadim Hussain Rizvi led Friday prayers in front of the Punjab Assembly (Faisal Chowk) while the other faction of Tehreek-e-Labbaik led by Ashraf Asif Jalali organised a sit-in in front of Data Darbar.

Other religious parties, including Jamaat-i-Islami, JUI-F, Jamaat-ud-Dawa, Majlise Ahrar, Jamiat Ulema-i-Pakistan and some smaller outfits organised small protests at different locations.

Lahore’s railways station, bus terminals, business centres, schools and private and public offices and petrol pumps remained closed due to protests. The city presented a deserted look throughout the day and people opted to stay at homes. There were reports of clashes between common citizens and protesters in some areas.

On the other side, important religious parties, including Jamaat-ud-Dawa, Jamaat-i-Islami, JUP-Noorani and others softened their stance on protests. They had announced a meeting of Milli Yakjehti Council at JuD head office on Saturday to devise a future strategy.  The MYC meeting, however, was cancelled due to assassination of JUI-S chief.

A division was seen between top religious leaders. For example, Maulana Tariq Jameel, a big name in the Tableeghi Jamaat, which organises congregations at Raiwind, supported the SC judgement. In a message he recalled how Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) had not distanced even hypocrites during his lifetime and had done his best to save them from the hellfire.

Mufti Muneebur Rehman, head of Ittehad Tanzeematul Madaris, on the other hand, supported the TLP demand.

Jamaat-ud-Dawa chief Hafiz Saeed said on Friday that the government should immediately file a review appeal against the Supreme Court's decision. “The entire nation is in shock over the Aasia case judgement. I request the SC to review the judgement considering Islamic clauses of the constitution,” he said. The JuD chief said Aasia should not be allowed to leave the country, he added.

JI chief Sirjaul Haq said Prime Minister Imran Khan should behave as chief executive of the country, listen to the protesters and present the government’s stance with arguments.

He said nobody had questioned the faith of the chief justice but if the Sessions Court and the High Court could give a wrong judgement, the apex court could also do the same. He demanded that a larger Supreme Court bench be constituted to hear the Aasia Bibi case afresh and till the decision of the bench, Aasia’s name be placed on ECL.

Tanzeem-i-Ittihad Ummat, a religious organisation representing all schools of Islamic thought, called for settling the issue through dialogue, and denounced protest on sensitive religious matters. It was critical of the TLP for dragging the army into the controversy.

Sunni Ittehad Council Pakistan, Awami Tehreek, Majlis Wahdat-e-Muslimeen and some other religious parties also stayed away from protests.

A faction of Tehreek-e-Labbaik led by Ashraf Asif Jalali however continued its protest in front of Data Darbar. The party spokesman said that they had nothing to do with the agreement signed by the Rizvi faction of the TLP and the government. Insiders however claimed that Data Darbar sit-in will also end late night.

TLP chief Khadim Hussain Rizvi however called off the protest late Friday night.

 

 

Govt, TLP sign 5-point accord