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LAHORE: After failing to reach a consensus in different round of talks with law enforcers, the banned Tehreek-e-Labbaik Pakistan (TLP) announced on Thursday that it would paralyze the country by holding countrywide agitation if their party chief Saad Hussain Rizvi, who is under government’s detention despite a court order, was not released and the French ambassador was not expelled from the country by 5:00pm of Friday (today).

The announcement was made by members of the Majlis-e-Shura (executive council) of the proscribed TLP while addressing a massive sit-in of charged workers and supporters on Multan Road near its headquarters at Rehmat-ul-lil-Aalameen Mosque on Thursday.

According to an official Twitter account of the TLP, the banned outfit lamented that the government was neither honouring the Lahore High Court (LHC) court (related to Hussain’s release) nor it is fulfilling its earlier promises regarding expulsion of the French ambassador and withdrawing FIRs against hundreds of the party workers.

“The hypocrite face of Imran Niazi government has been exposed as the law enforcement agencies started picking up our “peaceful” workers,” reads a tweet which urged its followers to reach the headquarters by adopting precautionary measures.

According to another tweet, the TLP said that the supporters of the ‘Namoos-e-Rasalat March’ will gather at its headquarters right after Friday prayer from where they would march towards Islamabad. The march will led by Ameer-ul-Mujahideen Noor Ullah Marqadah.

Speaking to the charged supporters at the sit-in, Syed Sarwar Shah Saifi, executive council member, said that the government has time till 5:00pm of Friday (today) for acceptance of their demands and release of their party chief Saad Hussain Rizvi and workers, who were recently picked up by law enforcers. He said they would not wait after 5:00pm and warned the government of taking coercive measures that would lead to further bloodshed.

According to sources, the Punjab police have recently picked up a number of TLP leaders on the pretext of ‘maintaining law and order and public safety’. The sources said that further arrests are likely to be made and their details will be kept classified.

According to a statement issued by the TLP media cell, the proscribed outfit said it also has a ‘plan-B’ in case its members were stopped from marching towards the federal capital and the government fails to fulfill their demands.

The party’s executive council decried that they had been staging a ‘peaceful protest’ in the streets for the past 15 days, yet their demand for the implementation of an agreement reached between them and the government earlier this year remained unmet.

Meanwhile, Capital City Police Officer (CCPO) Ghulam Mehmood Dogar and DIG Operations Sohail Chaudhry and other senior officers held different round of talks with the TLP leaders at its headquarters earlier in the day but their negotiations remained inconclusive.

As a result, the Punjab police blocked all entry and exit points of the city by placing containers. They also placed containers on several main arteries within the city, especially routes leading to the TLP headquarters, which caused great inconvenience to citizens. The field officers have been provided with wooden sticks to deal with the protestors.

Punjab Inspector General of Police Rao Sardar Ali Khan said that strict action has been directed against those who would block the highways under the guise of protest and cause problems for citizens.

“Maintaining writ of the state is (among) one of basic duties of the police and strict actions should be taken against miscreants and their facilitators to thwart any attempt to disturb the peace,” he directed while addressing a video-link conference of all the regional police officers at the central police office on Thursday.

While stressing upon the need for strengthening the police intelligence network, the IG directed the Counter-Terrorism Department (CTD), Special Branch and district police officers to make mutual coordination and information sharing more effective.

Earlier, the Ministry of Interior on the request of the Punjab Home Department had asked the Pakistan Telecommunication Authority (PTA) to block internet services in Samanabad, Sherkot, Nawankot, Gulshan-i-Ravi, Sabzazar and Iqbal Town areas of Lahore “for maintaining law and order situation”.

The notification issued on October 20 stated that internet services were to be suspended in the said areas with immediate effect till further request for the reopening of the services. It may be mentioned that all these areas have been sealed with containers.

Copyright Business Recorder, 2021

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