ISLAMABAD - In a last-ditch effort to avoid a showdown, Interior Minister Ahsan Iqbal on Sunday made a passionate appeal to the protesters to end their sit-in as the deadline given by the court to clear the Faizabad Interchange has already passed.

However, he made it clear that pressure to resolve the crisis is mounting. The minister warned that an operation could be launched against Tehreek Labbaik Ya Rasool Allah and Sunni Tehreek anytime as four rounds of talks with them had failed.

Ahsan the two religious parties of launching negative propaganda on the social media and instigating the people. He warned that the government has showed patience until now and ‘the well goes only this deep’.

The interior minister also called an emergency meeting of the ulema belonging to all schools of thought on Monday (today) to discuss the sit-in being held at Faizabad Interchange.

According to an Interior Ministry statement issued here Sunday, final consultation would be held with the ulema to cope with the situation arisen due to the sit-in and to devise a strategy for keeping the nation united on the finality of Prophethood (Peace Be Upon Him).

Addressing a news conference here, the minister also requested religious leaders to play their role to resolve the grueling issue amicably.

He said the government was losing patience and the operation to disperse the protesters could be launched any time as the court deadline ended. “There is no excuse now to continue with the sit-in,” he said. He urged the protesters to obey the law of land and call off the sit-in.

Ahsan maintained that the law regarding Khatm-e-Nabuwat (PBUH) has been made more effective than it was before. The minister said that no one could even think of compromising on this issue. He also invited religious leaders and scholars to play their role in resolving the issue.

The government and the representatives of the protesters have so far held several rounds of talks to resolve the issue but both sides are sticking to their stated positions on the resignation issue of Federal Law Minister Zahid Hamid. Though the deadlock persists, the government is trying to resolve the issue amicably.

The interior minister said the government was committed to resolving the issue through dialogue and added that the use of force against the protesters would be the last option. He said that the government had already agreed to the suggestions of a 30-member delegation of ulema and Mashaikh and hoped that leaders of the protesters will also agree with the suggestions.

He said that the protest was negatively portraying Pakistan’s image abroad. He observed that some elements, according to the intelligence reports, want to use the sit-in for creating the law and order situation and for a political mileage ahead of the next general elections.

On Saturday, the government offered the protesting leaders that all cases registered against them would be withdrawn and a committee would be appointed to look into claims that Law Minister Zahid Hamid was behind the now-withdrawn controversial change in the Khatm-i-Nabuwat (PBUH) declaration for electoral candidates. The government has, however, rejected the protesters’ demand for the law minister’s resignation, saying that Hamid could not be asked to resign without solid evidence against him.

Ahsan reiterated that the compliance with the IHC order to remove the protesters by Sunday was a legal requirement. He made it clear that the law-enforcing agencies were fully capable of clearing the venue. “The pressure on us is increasing [to end the sit-in],” he said. Though, he said, the government did not want any clash and tension ahead of Jashn-e-Eid Miladun Nabi (PBUH), people’s daily life and businesses have all been affected by the 14-day long protest.

On the other hand, hundreds of protesters were still present at the venue under the leadership of Khadim Hussain Rizvi. Tension is increasing at the venue as the deadline to clear the site expired.



Pressure to evict protesters mounting: Ahsan