General

Ahsan Iqbal hopeful of resolving Islamabad sit-in within 24-48 hours

After appearing before the Islamabad High Court for non-implementation of the court’s order to clear the Faizabad sit-in on Monday, Interior Minister Ahsan Iqbal appealed to the protesters once more to end their sit-in peacefully.
Addressing the media after the hearing, Iqbal said once more that the government wants to avoid taking action for fear of bloodshed.
The minister claimed that there are conspirators who want a “Model Town or Lal Masjid”-like episode once again, referring to government action against political workers in Lahore in 2014 and seminary students in Islamabad in 2007, respectively.
He added that the Khatam-e-Nabbuwat laws are stronger than before.
“The impression that we compromised on Khatam-e-Nabbuwat is not correct. I am hopeful that we will resolve the issue in 24-48 hours,” he said further.
The minister said the government will make sure that citizens do not face such situations anymore.
Adjourned until Thursday
Hearing the matter in front of Iqbal, Justice Siddiqui asked why court orders to end the protest are not being implemented.
The minister, taking sole responsibility for the failure to end the sit-in, said he wants to resolve the matter peacefully and asked the court for more time.
Upon hearing the interior minister’s request, Justice Siddiqui adjourned the hearing until Thursday.
The court also issued show-cause notices for contempt of court to the interior secretary, chief commissioner and Islamabad inspector general.
“I believe we’ll be able to bring the protesters to our side,” said Iqbal after the hearing.
Court expresses displeasure
As the hearing began on Monday, Justice Siddiqui had expressed reservations saying that the government did not implement his order to clear the protest by 10am Saturday despite his clear-cut directions to the local administration.
The judge said that he will issue a ‘contempt of court’ order in this regard and ordered the interior ministry’s top officials to be present in court today.
Commuters in the twin cities continue to face hardship as the protest sit-in at Faizabad Interchange, linking the main Islamabad-Rawalpindi route, by religious parties enters its fifteenth day today.
Sources said the daily deployment of police and paramilitary personnel is costing the government Rs5 million every day.
One-point agenda meeting today
Interior Minister Ahsan Iqbal has called an emergency meeting of religious scholars belonging to all schools of thought over the ongoing protest at 3pm today.
The consultative meeting, to be held at the Religious Affairs Ministry, is the latest effort on behalf of the government to bring the protest to a peaceful end.
Sources said the meeting will have a single-point agenda: how to resolve the crisis in the capital.
Iqbal, Pakistan Muslim League-N leader Raja Zafarul Haq and State Minister for Religious Affairs Pir Aminul Hasnaat have previously met a number of protest leaders in view of reaching a breakthrough to end the sit-in.
The interior minister in his press conference on Sunday said that all options are available for dispersing the Islamabad protest, adding that a security operation is the last option as the government will try to avoid bloodshed.
Addressing the media alongside State Minister for Religious Affairs, Iqbal had said the government will go “to any extent” to resolve the issue, including a security operation, adding that protesters blocking the Faizabad Interchange are engaging in a propaganda to incite emotions of the people.
“Our forces have the capability to clear the area but we are keeping the operation as the last option. This is not a sign of weakness but we are doing this out of respect [for the matter of finality of Prophethood].”
The protest has nothing to do with religion or religious demands and “such organisations” take these steps to advance ahead of elections, he said.
“The protesters demand that Law Minister Zahid Hamid should step down; however, there is no proof that he is responsible for the mistake. A committee has been formed in this regard which will probe the matter so there is no justification for the protest,” he said.