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ISLAMABAD: Interior Minister Sheikh Rashid on Wednesday said that the chief of banned Tehreek-e-Labbaik Pakistan (TLP), Saad Rizvi, and 209 others would be released only after they face due process of law.

Addressing a press conference, he said the government has released 699 out of 733 TLP activists, who were arrested under the Public Maintenance Order (MPO).

But he clarified that 210 first information reports (FIRs), including one in relation to the case against banned TLP chief Saad Rizvi, which includes Section 7 of the Anti-Terrorism Act (ATA) and section 302 of the Pakistan Penal Court (PPC), will be quashed only after they face due process of law.

Rashid said the ban on the TLP is not being lifted.

The TLP will file its appeal against the ban to the Interior Ministry within 30 days. “If they file an appeal, a committee will be formed to decide the case,” he said, adding that under section 11C of Anti-Terrorism Act (ATA), 1997, TLP has the right to file an appeal and the government has banned the party under section 11B of ATC, 1997.

He said that according to the agreement reached between the government and the TLP, the State would decide the matters relating to country’s relations with other countries and not a group or an individual.

The minister further said that the social media played a key role in the protests as “fake accounts instigated people to join protests.”

“At least 0.2 million accounts were being used from India, the USA, and Korea,” he said.

Rashid said he held a meeting regarding social media and decided to determine the future course of action in relation to social media.

“We have secured 24 out of 27 points to get out of the Financial Action Task Force (FATF) grey list, but our enemies want us on the blacklist,” he said.

The interior minister said that Prime Minister Imran Khan will himself take Western countries into confidence and prepare a strategy of common interests for Muslims across the world.

The government has decided that Western countries will be sensitized regarding the issue, and Islamic countries have been urged to take a stance against blasphemous contents, he said. He said that his ministry will bring a policy against hate speech, terrorism, and religious extremism.

Rashid said that a ‘martyr package’ will be given to the policemen killed during the TLP protests.

C1 and C2 certificates and Rs4 billion will be distributed to the officers injured during the sit-ins and protests, he added.

The minister said that protestors burnt 30 cars and returned five cars they had confiscated.

The 12 kidnapped personnel of police were returned on the night of April 19 by the protesters, he said.

He said that as per the agreement a National Assembly session was summoned on April 20 to debate the expulsion of the French envoy as demanded by the banned TLP.

To a question about deportation of former Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, he said that he had a detailed discussion with the British envoy regarding the matter.

“I urged the British High Commissioner Dr Christian Turner to deport Nawaz Sharif, as he is a fugitive of the court,” he said, adding that the envoy told him to make a formal request to the British government for the extradition of Sharif. The envoy also said that he would look into this case on government to government basis but did not give a “very positive” response.

To another question, he said that Jamaat-e-Islami (JI) chief Siraj ul Haq has played a “very responsible role” while Fazlur Rehman, the chief of Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam-Fazl (JUI-F), tried to exploit the situation.

Copyright Business Recorder, 2021

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