ISLAMABAD: On Friday, the government of Pakistan and the Tehreek-e-Labbaik Pakistan reached an agreement to end days-long protests that had left roads blocked and paralysed routine life in major cities of the country.
Protests by religious parties, led by the TLP, had erupted on Wednesday after the Supreme Court ordered the release of Asia Bibi, a Christian woman on death row since 2010, acquitting her of blasphemy charges.
Following the agreement, the TLP leaders announced they were ending their sit-ins. The party chief, Khadim Hussain Rizvi, subsequently asked protesters to disperse from all sit-ins peacefully.
“After almost 48 hours, we have reached a conclusion following detailed negotiations including both federal and provincial government representatives,” Federal Minister for Religious Affairs Noorul Haq Qadri told local news channel.
The sit-in near Star Gate area, on the metropolis’ Shahrah-e-Faisal, concluded and traffic resumed after roads were cleared up. Protesters were advised by the TLP chief Khadim Hussain Rizvi to disperse peacefully following the deal.
TLP spokesperson Pir Ijaz Qadri told AFP: “The party leaders have announced to end protest sit-ins across the country. Workers have been asked to disperse peacefully.”
Traffic flow also resumed near Al-Asif Square as vehicles were allowed to reenter the city and the sit-ins on Super Highway and other areas ended.
Another protest that was staged near Safari Park on Karachi’s University Road also concluded, resulting in clear traffic flow.
The sit-in near Numaish Chowrangi was also wrapped up following the agreement and the protesters departed peacefully.
Qadri, who was one of the signatories of the five-point document, said the government had agreed to the protesters’ demand that it would not object to a review petition over Asia Bibi’s acquittal.
The federal minister said that due process would be followed according to law where the Supreme Court or High Court would be requested to include her name in the Exit Control List (ECL).
Copy of the agreement signed by TLP and government representatives.
The five points of the agreement are listed below:
1. A review petition has been filed in the Asia Bibi case which is the right of the petitioners. The government will raise no objections over the review petition.
2. Due process will be followed immediately to include the name of Asia Bibi in the Exit Control List (ECL).
3. Immediate legal action will be taken over the martyrdom of any individuals during the protest campaign against the acquittal of Asia Bibi.
4. All those arrested on October 30 or afterwards in the protest campaign against Asia Bibi’s acquittal will be released immediately.
5. The TLP apologises to anybody whose sentiments have been unnecessarily hurt during the incident.