Govt, TLP lock horns over activists’ release

Tehreek in talks with federal govt for workers’ release

LAHORE - Differences have cropped up between the Tehreek-e-Labbaik Pakistan and the Punjab government over the interpretation of the agreement signed between the two sides, after which the TLP has decided to hold talks with the federal government, bypassing the provincial authorities.

The Punjab government, however, denies that it failed to do what it was supposed to do in the light of the agreement signed on Friday that resulted in the TLP calling off the three-day protest against acquittal of Aasia Bibi by the Supreme Court of Pakistan.

“If the TLP leadership wants to talk to the federal government, Punjab has nothing to do with such an initiative and its outcome,” said Law Minister Raja Basharat while talking to The Nation on Wednesday.

Raja was the signatory of the agreement on behalf of Punjab government while Federal Minister for Religious Affairs Noorul Haq Qadri singed it on behalf of Islamabad.

The differences have emerged at a time when some important religious parties have already issued a call of protest against Aasia’s acquittal on Friday. 

The TLP alleges that Punjab government is not releasing its workers and also using foul language against top leadership.

“Our 200 workers are in police custody across Punjab and we demand their immediate release,” said Pir Ijaz Ashrafi, the spokesman for the TLP.

He said the TLP was holding talks with the federal government with the same demand and had the option to hold protest in case the issue was not resolved.

He added the language being used by Federal Information Minister Fawad Ch and Punjab Information Minister Fayyazul Hassan Chuhan against the TLP top leadership was unbearable and it was creating unrest among thousands of party workers countrywide.

Raja Basharat, on the other side, said the government was releasing every person who was found not involved in violence during the protest. But, he added, the miscreants would not be released at any cost and strict action will be taken against all those found involved in damaging public and private properties during the protest. He strictly denied that the government was not abiding by the accord.

The five-point agreement between the TLP and the government 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.

Meanwhile, Jamaat-i-Islami, Jamiat Ulema-i-Islam-Fazl and Jamiat Ulema-i-Pakistan-Noorani have announced to hold countrywide protest against Aasia’s acquittal on Friday. The leaders of the parties said no compromise will be made on blasphemy issue, demanding name of Aasia will be placed on ECL immediately. The Jamaatuddawa, on the other side, announced to file a review petition in the SC against Aasia acquittal.

Meanwhile, in a late-night development, a delegation of the TLP led by Waheed Noor held talks in Islamabad with Federal Religious Affairs Minister Noorul Haq Qadri and representatives of federal law and home ministries. A TLP leader said the government stuck to the agreement signed between the two sides.


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