LAHORE: Tehreek-i-Labbaik Pakistan workers (TLP) on Monday abandoned their long march to Islamabad after the proscribed group’s leadership inked an agreement with the government, but continued their sit-in in Wazirabad for a fourth day.
Following the deal with the government, TLP supporters vacated Grand Trunk (GT) Road and Allah Wala Chowk. However, they pitched tents at a nearby ground, and said they would stage a sit-in until TLP chief Saad Rizvi is released. Rizvi was detained by police under the Maintenance of Public Order ordinance on April 12 and remains incarcerated.
Meanwhile, roads leading to the inner city were opened. However, traffic was not restored at the Chenab Toll Plaza where police and Rangers were still deployed and roads leading to Gujrat and Sialkot also remained blocked.
Security officials said that the ditches dug up along GT Road to dissuade the protesters from marching to Islamab
Traffic on GT Road remained suspended and cars and trucks remained stuck, while internet services also continued to be disrupted.
Separately, a steering committee headed by Minister of State for Parliamentary Affairs Ali Mohammad Khan also met in Lahore to oversee the implementation of the agreement.
Taking to Twitter, Khan said that GT Road had been cleared after TLP protesters moved to an open ground in Wazirabad away from traffic “as per the agreement”.
“I appreciate the TLP leadership for honouring their commitment and the government is already implementing its side of the agreement since last night,” the minister said.
In a subsequent update, he shared that roads from Zafar Ali Khan Chowk to Allah Hu Chowk had also been cleared. “Traffic flow is normal now and [there is] NO issue of road blockage because of the protest, which has been shifted to an open, vacant ground,” he said.
Govt, TLP ink deal to end impasse
On Sunday, members of the negotiating team from the government side on Sunday claimed that they had reached an “agreement” with the proscribed group in order to end the nearly two-week-long impasse, but refused to divulge its details.
“The government of Pakistan and the TLP held detailed negotiations in an environment of mutual trust and an agreement has been reached between the two sides,” Mufti Muneebur Rehman announced at a press conference.
The situation in Wazirabad, where the TLP marchers have camped out, remains unchanged at the moment, with blockades of roads and cellular services continuing. The protesters have started packing up their belongings, but have been told not to move until they are given the green light by the TLP’s leadership in Islamabad, according to our correspondent in Gujranwala.
Sajid Saifi, a TLP spokesman, told reporters Sunday that supporters were ready to pack up but they were awaiting instructions from the party’s leadership. He said he hoped TLP leader Saad Rizvi and all the activists arrested in recent days would be released soon.