ISLAMABAD -  As the sit-in at the main Faizabad Interchange entered the 7th day, the government on Tuesday warned that it would exploit all legal means to disperse the protesters of Tehreek-e-Labaik Ya Rasool Allah and Sunni Tehreek after a final round of talks with them.

Addressing a press conference, State Minister for Interior Talal Chaudhry said that the government wanted to give one more chance to leaders of the protesters for a final round of talks, otherwise, the government would have to clear the main avenue of the capital and the interchange.

Chaudhry said that the government wanted to resolve the issue through negotiations without any point-scoring. He said that most demands of the protesters, out of total 12, were illegal and out of the ambit of law. He also ruled out any possibility that the government would accept the protesters’ demand for sacking Law Minister Zahid Hamid. “They have no rationale to justify the removal of the law minister.”

Giving an example of the illegal demands of the leaders of the protesting religious parties, the minister said that they were demanding exclusion of names of some religious leaders from the Fourth Schedule — the government’s anti-terror watch list — and a relaxation on a ban on the use of the loud speaker. The government has banned the use of loudspeaker under the National Action Plan (NAP). He said that the 10 demands of the protesters had no relation with the issue of Khatm-i-Nabuwwat (the finality of prophethood.

The protesters, who had entered the capital last Wednesday and captured the main Faizabad Interchange — the entry well as the exit point of the capital and city’s main avenue — have paralyzed the life of residents of the twin cities of Rawalpindi and Islamabad. They are demanding the resignation of Law Minister Zahid Hamid over a controversial amendment in the declaration form for electoral candidates regarding the finality of prophethood in the Electoral Reforms Bill 2017.

Accompanied by Religious Affairs Minister Sardar Muhammad Yousaf and State Minister of Capital Administration and Development Division Tariq Fazal Chaudhry, Talal Chaudhry said that several rounds of talks with the leaders of the two protesting parties were unsuccessful and majority of their demands were illegal. “The government has exhausted all its options of talks,” he said. “Dr Tariq Fazal Chaudhry, Peer Aminul Hasnat and I took part in the negotiations. The Punjab government also held negotiations with the religious leaders,” he said.

He said that it was unfair to hold responsible the law minister for an amendment in the declaration form as the bill was unanimously approved by the 33-member parliamentary committee having a representation of all parliamentary parties.

“The residents are facing hardships due to roads’ closure, children are unable to attend schools and business activities in both cities have suffered very much,” he said while cursing at the protesters. He questioned whether it was morally and religiously fair to paralyze the life.

About the three member-committee formed by ousted prime minister Nawaz Sharif to probe who was responsible for making controversial changes in the declaration form, Talal said the report of the committee was still awaited. “According to the preliminary information, the committee has not fixed responsibility on anyone and that it was not a single person’s mistake,” he said. The minister said that the sacking of law minister would put his life in danger. He said that negotiators from the protesters had shown their confidence in the Leader of House in the Senate and PML-N leader Senator Raja Zafarul Haq who heads the probe committee. He said that the committee would take some more days to complete its probe. He said that the committee was questioning members of different parliamentary parties—a reason for the delay in the finalisation of the report.

The minister also made it clear that all agencies and state institutions were on board vis-à-vis the protest sit-in. He said that a wrong propaganda was being spread that some forces from the establishment were behind the protest, “However, we have found some clues of their foreign funding and the matter is under probe,” he said.

Responding to a question, Talal Chaudhry said that the protesting leaders had some political motives rather than religious, otherwise, the issue could be resolved within minutes. He said that they backed out from their promises they had made with the Punjab government and added that Islam did not teach this. “There is no room in Islam that anyone would create hurdles for patients and students,” he said adding that the government was showing patience.

Religious Affairs Minister Yousaf said that the law regarding the controversial amendment in the declaration form had already been reversed.