- Minister says more arrests will be made soon
Information Minister Fawad Chaudhry has said that 32 activists belonging to the banned Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TLP) have been arrested for spreading propaganda based on hatred through fake social media accounts.
In a tweet on Friday, Fawad said that action has been initiated against those involved in fake propaganda. "Soon more arrests will be made," the minister stated.
Fawad's remarks come amid a deadlock between the government and TLP over the group's demands.
On Thursday, TLP protesters marched towards Gujranwala in a bid to press the government to accept their demands. The TLP has been demanding the government to expel the French ambassador and shut down the French embassy in Pakistan.
All business centres and educational institutions in areas near the GT Road were closed while the flow of traffic was completely suspended on the main thoroughfare due to the TLP protest.
The schedule of trains was also affected after the government decided to suspend the operation keeping in view the current situation.
As part of the government's strategy to stop the protesters from marching towards the capital, the authorities dug up a trench on GT Road near Chenab Bridge while containers were placed. In addition, the road from Wazirabad to Sialkot was also excavated.
Govt-TLP talks fail
Negotiations between the government and TLP resumed on Thursday but failed to yield any result. Interior Minister Sheikh Rashid and Religious Affairs Minister Noorul Haq Qadri represented the government.
The TLP demanded the release of its chief Saad Rizvi from imprisonment, withdrawal of cases against the party workers, and presenting a resolution against France in parliament.
However, the government had stated that the cases of TLP workers will be decided by the court. It also asked the banned outfit to withdraw from the GT Road and other main highways before the release of the TLP chief from jail.
'No one allowed to challenge state's writ'
On Wednesday, Fawad Chaudhry said that the cabinet decided to treat TLP as a militant organisation, adding that no one could challenge the writ of the state.
He stated that the TLP will not be dealt as a political party but as a militant organisation.
Violent clashes continue
At least four police officials were martyred while several suffered injuries when TLP workers clashed with the police near Muridke and Sadhuke on Wednesday.
The fierce clashes broke out after the TLP tried to resume its march on Islamabad to pressurise the government to accept its demands.
Inspector General of Punjab Police Rao Sardar said the charged mob of the proscribed organisation martyred four police officials and injured 263 others.
He claimed that the TLP activists were armed with automatic weapons and shot straight on the police. The IGP added that the use of arms against the law-enforcement agencies by the banned outfit is a matter of serious concern.
Following the April clashes in which TLP activists blocked highways, railways, and access routes to cities and battled police, the authorities arrested their leader, Saad Hussain 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.