ISLAMABAD: Federal Minister for Interior Sheikh Rashid Ahmed on Sunday said that he is 'clueless' about the notification - supposed to be issued by the prime minister - pertaining to appointment of the newly nominated director general (DG) Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) Lt Gen Nadeem Anjum.
Speaking at a presser here, he said: "I've no clue [...] when the notification [of the newly nominated DG ISI] will be issued, as it's only the prime minister, his spokesperson or the defence ministry which can tell you when the notification will be issued".
To a question, he said: "At present, Lt-Gen Faiz Hameed is the DG ISI". Talking about talks with proscribed Tehreek-e-Labbaik Pakistan (TLP) march towards Islamabad, he said the workers of the proscribed outfit will not proceed with its march towards Islamabad as negotiations with the group had almost succeeded. He said that TLP workers would continue their sit-in till Monday or Tuesday but will not head towards Islamabad, adding the TLP protesters will stay in Muridke till Tuesday.
After reviewing their demands, he added, the issue will be resolved peacefully by Tuesday. The minister said that all the roads, which had been closed earlier to stop the protesters from marching towards Islamabad, will be reopened for traffic gradually. Giving details of the government's talks with TLP leadership, he said that the government will withdraw cases registered against TLP activists till Wednesday.
"The negotiators of the proscribed organization will visit the Interior Ministry on Monday at 10am to hold a second round of talks," he added. He said that detained TLP workers, along with those placed on the fourth schedule, would be released.
The minister said the French ambassador was not present in the country at the moment, adding that the TLP's objection was justified as there had been no progress on the accords for six months.
"Religious Affairs Minister Noorul Haq Qadri and I've signed agreements with the TLP. We'll take the issue of French ambassador's expulsion to the National Assembly and ask the speaker to form a committee," he added.
Terming the activists of TLP as political workers, he said that the government did not want to clash with religious groups. "They are political people and they have the third-highest vote bank in Punjab. They reserve the right to make any statement," he said, referring to the group's claim about the number of workers arrested by law enforcement agencies.
He said that political parties had the right to stage protests, but said that the government should be "flexible".
"I believe in reconciliation and the government is supposed to show flexibility [...] we should try to take the country towards the path of improvement," he added.
Responding to a question from a reporter, the minister said that the government had not banned the TLP as they are contesting elections and we did not approach the Supreme Court.
However, when asked why the TLP is then referred to as proscribed in media reports, he said that 'it is written with their name because we've declared them so'. When asked whether the government was releasing TLP chief Saad Rizvi, Rashid simply said: "We are working on it. I've held a meeting one-on-one meeting with Rizvi to discuss the current issues".
Meanwhile, Minister for Religious Affairs Noorul Haq Qadri said that the issue will be resolved through mutual understanding. He maintained that the concerned authorities have been directed that there should be no clash between the police and the protesters.
Copyright Business Recorder, 2021