- Administration has sealed both tracks of Murree Road from Faizabad Interchange to Mareer Chowk Saddar in Rawalpindi
Authorities have sealed several areas and main roads in Islamabad and Rawalpindi in an attempt to stop protesters of the banned Tehreek-e-Labbaik Pakistan (TLP) from marching towards the capital, it was reported on Wednesday.
The administration has sealed both tracks of Murree Road from Faizabad Interchange to Mareer Chowk Saddar in Rawalpindi after placing containers and roadblocks while the Rawalpindi Metro Bus Service has been suspended from Saddar to Faizabad.
Similarly, Murree Road has also been blocked from Faizabad to Chandni Chowk, and a heavy contingent of the police force has been deployed in the area.
Law enforcement personnel have also been deputed at Faizabad to the Sixth Road to stop TLP workers from marching towards Islamabad.
Meanwhile, the police conducted a raid at the residence of the chief of Rawalpindi chapter of the TLP but he could not be arrested. The TLP leader was detained on Friday. However, he was released later when the government held a dialogue with the leaders of the banned party.
Govt cannot expel French envoy
Interior Minister Sheikh Rashid Ahmed said that the government is ready to accept all demands of the TLP except the expulsion of the French ambassador from the country and the shutting of their embassy.
In a press conference on October 26, Rashid said that he presented a report to Prime Minister Imran Khan regarding the negotiations made with TLP during a meeting that was also attended by Chief of Army Staff (COAS) General Qamar Javed Bajwa and others.
He stated that the meeting agreed to all demands of the TLP, including abolishing of fourth schedule, cases against its leadership and workers, as well as, proscription of the organisation except exclusion of the French ambassador. "We have no reservation over any issue except the issue of France ambassador," he said.
The minister said that the main demand of TLP is the expulsion of the French ambassador which would affect Pakistan's relations with the entire European Union (EU) and EU countries stand with France.
Earlier, the TLP decided to convert their march towards Islamabad into a sit-in till their demands are met after successful negotiations with the government.
Sheikh Rashid had announced that the government will withdraw cases against workers of TLP by October 26. The interior minister said that he had a one-on-one conversation with TLP chief Saad Rizvi and the negotiations were successful.
He also instructed the police to remove all barriers and containers from the roads in Islamabad and Rawalpindi till the outcome of the talks with the banned group.
On October 23, the TLP said seven of its supporters were killed in clashes with authorities in Lahore. At least three police officers were also killed in the unrest.
Thousands of TLP protesters marched towards Islamabad demanding the release of their detained leader Saad Hussain Rizvi. They blocked roads and shouted slogans in favor of their demands.
The authorities also placed containers in major cities in a bid to stop the protesters from marching towards Islamabad.
Following the April clashes in which TLP activists blocked highways, railways, and access routes to cities and battled police, the authorities arrested their leader, Rizvi, and banned the TLP.
Authorities had been trying to negotiate with the TLP, which rallied its supporters outside its Lahore headquarters for the last two days, but the negotiations broke down and the TLP called on supporters from around Pakistan to converge on the capital Islamabad.
The main arteries to and from Lahore and Islamabad were blocked with shipping containers to prevent demonstrators from entering the city. The diplomatic enclave in Islamabad, where most foreign embassies are located, was also blocked off.