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TLP may face intl’ sanctions, protestors marching to Islamabad

ISLAMABAD: Ignoring all warning from the governing and setting aside all security arrangements, activists of proscribed Tehreek-i-Labbaik Pakistan (TLP) are continuously marching towards capital Islamabad. Interior Minister Sheikh Rashid Ahmed has said that the Rangers were being called in to maintain law and order in Punjab for 60 days after recent clashes with the proscribed TLP.

Addressing a press conference in Islamabad, the minister said a summary in this regard has been sent to the federal cabinet for approval. However, he still requested the group to end their protest.

Protestors throwing stones towards police on the way to Islamabad

The minister’s remarks came as fresh violence erupted between law enforcers and TLP supporters near Sadhoke in Punjab’s Gujranwala district on Wednesday. At least four policemen were martyred and over 250 injured.

Shortly before the interior minister’s press conference, Information Minister Fawad Chaudhry categorically said that TLP will not be allowed to challenge the writ of the state and will be treated as a “militant” group and not a religious party.

Speaking to the media in Islamabad after Chaudhry’s press conference, Rashid said that the group had “another agenda”. “So I am authorising Punjab govt to call in Rangers.”

TLP leaders sitting in a truck leading the protestors.

He said that he had spoken to the banned group at 3:30am last night and told them to look at the situation in the country. “I told them that the French ambassador is not even in Pakistan. This shows that they have another agenda.”

The minister said that the group had committed that it would reopen roads that it had previously blocked. He added that he had directed the Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) to take strict action against those spreading fake news on social media.

Police and law enforcing agencies have closed the roads

He said that three policemen had been martyred and 70 injured, of whom eight were in critical condition.

The minister said the TLP, which the government had already declared proscribed, could be banned internationally.

“It could be included in the list of international terrorists and then we would not be able to do anything in their case,” Rashid said, adding that he had shared this foreboding with the group.

He added that it was being said that he was being “too flexible” in the matter. “But this is my political thinking of keeping the doors open [for talks].”

Faizabad intersection

The district administrations of Rawalpindi and Islamabad blocked the Faizabad intersection on Tuesday midnight while the law enforcement agencies began sealing areas and roads with containers to prevent the banned Tehreek-i-Labbaik Pakistan’s (TLP) protesters from entering the federal capital territory.

The picture shows the notification issued by Ministry of Interior regarding the deployment of Rangers in Pakistan’s Punjab province. 

On the other hand, the police started conducting raids at the residence/madressah of the chief of Rawalpindi chapter of the TLP to arrest him again, but he could not be arrested till the filing of this report.

The TLP leader was detained on Friday. However, he was released later when the government held a dialogue with the leaders of the banned party.

Out of the TLP activists arrested by law enforcement agencies from Rawalpindi and Islamabad since Thursday, only five were released from Adiala jail on Monday.

According to sources, police deployment was to be carried out in the garrison city before dawn and the roads blocked with containers and barbed wire to prevent any protest.

After Interior Minister Sheikh Rashid announced that the government could not meet the TLP’s demand for expulsion of the French ambassador from the country, the party said its activists would march on Islamabad.

The Punjab government directed the district police officers of Toba Tek Singh, Mianwali, Khushab and Bahawalpur to report to the Regional Police Officer of Rawalpindi Imran Ahmar, along with extra personnel, to assist the Rawalpindi range police to tackle the evolving law and order situation.

4 policemen killed, 250 injured

At least four policemen were martyred and over 250 injured as thousands of workers of the proscribed Tehreek-i-Labbaik Pakistan (TLP) clashed with law-enforcement personnel near Sadhoke in Punjab’s Gujranwala district on Wednesday.

Punjab Chief Minister Usman Buzdar tweeted that the four police personnel were martyred due to firing by TLP workers, adding that 253 others had been injured in the violence. He further said that strict legal action will be taken against those involved in the violence.

TLP activists have occupied a police van while marching towards Islamabad

Earlier, police spokesperson Nayab Haider confirmed the death of one policeman, whom local sources identified as Kasur ASI M. Akbar.

Later, Interior Minister Sheikh Rashid Ahmed told a press conference that three policemen had been martyred in the violence. He said 70 police personnel had been injured, of whom eight were in critical condition.

TLP activists marching towards Islamabad

More than 30 policemen injured in the clashes were taken to the Muridke Tehsil Headquarters (THQ) Hospital, while 35 injured personnel were shifted to the Sheikhupura District Headquarters (DHQ) Hospital, according to Medical Superintendent Dr Azhar Amin.

Meanwhile, a Punjab police spokesman told Reuters: “TLP activists used SMG, AK 47 and pistols to target police officials as the result of which several officials were martyred.”

NSC meeting called

Minister for Information and Broadcasting Fawad Chaudhry on Thursday said that Prime Minister Imran Khan had summoned a meeting of the National Security Committee (NSC) for tomorrow (Friday) due to the continuing protests by the proscribed Tehreek-i-Labbaik Pakistan (TLP).

In a tweet, the minister said that the meeting had been summoned in light of the situation arising out of the “illegal activities” by the banned group. “Other issues related to national security will also be discussed in the meeting,” he said.