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WAZIRABAD: Thousands of workers of the proscribed Tehreek-i-Labbaik Pakistan (TLP) continued their sit-in in Wazirabad for a second day on Saturday as they waited for instructions from their leaders to move ahead.

The workers, who reached Wazirabad from Gujranwala on Friday, spent the night at the Zafar Ali Khan Bypass.

Meanwhile, traffic and internet services remained suspended in the city while businesses also remained closed.

A senior official earlier told reporters that the next TLP-Police encounter was expected at two major security points that had been established at Chenab and Jhelum rivers, the only route for the march to reach Islamabad.

On Friday, hundreds of Rangers and police personnel were deployed at the Chenab toll plaza to counter the marchers.

About 500 metres from the Chenab toll plaza, the Punjab Rangers marked a “red line”, and put up a notice nearby warning the protesters not to breach the line or face consequences.

In view of the situation caused due to the TLP rally, Pakistan Railways announced that two trains between Karachi and Rawalpindi — Tezgam Express and Pakistan Express — would remain suspended Saturday for both inbound and outbound services.

In addition, several other trains that were scheduled to travel through Lahore would also remain suspended. These include Jaffar Express between Peshawar and Quetta, Khyber Mail between Peshawar and Karachi and Green Line between Lahore and Rawalpindi.

All other trains would function according to their schedule and route, a PR spokesperson said.

A day earlier, Interior Minister Sheikh Rashid Ahmed said negotiations were underway between the government and detained TLP chief Saad Hussain Rizvi on ending the proscribed group’s march to Islamabad.

Ahmed said the government wanted to “amicably” resolve the matter of the protest march, which has disrupted life in several Punjab cities for two weeks.

The minister announced that Prime Minister Imran Khan would address the nation about the current security situation, saying “he will present the entire situation before the nation and his speech will explain the narrative of the government.”

He said four policemen had been martyred in clashes with TLP workers, while more than 80 had been injured, eight of them critically.

“We stand by our position and we are waiting for them (TLP) to abide by their commitment to open the GT Road.” Ahmed said it was also expected that Minister for Religious Affairs Noorul Haq Qadri would talk to the TLP leadership again.

Meanwhile, security was increased in Islamabad on Friday and senior officials of the capital police considered reinstating all suspended officials to ensure maximum manpower ahead of the proscribed group’s march.

The leaves of all police officials were also cancelled, police sources said.

The police are working on different strategies to stop the TLP rally from reaching the capital, the officers said, adding that they were considering establishing defence lines in Rawat, Kak Bridge and Gulberg Green, respectively.


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