- Says there is no personal or political agenda as far as talks with govt are concerned
Former Ruet-i-Hilal Committee Chairman Mufti Muneebur Rehman said on Monday that some of the government’s ministers have looked to mislead that the banned Tehreek-e-Labbaik Pakistan (TLP) demanded the expulsion of the French ambassador and the shutdown of its embassy in Pakistan, reported Aaj News.
“Any such demand was never made during the talks, and some of the government ministers lied about it,” Muneeb told reporters in Karachi.
He went on to say that "when the government’s responsible people start lying, how can we trust them?"
Muneeb said that we don't have any personal or political agenda as far as the talks are concerned, adding that once an agreement is made it should be fulfilled.
Last week, Interior Minister Sheikh Rashid Ahmed said the government had resolved all issues with the TLP, except the issue of the French ambassador’s expulsion from the country.
Sharing details of his meetings with the TLP's leadership, Rashid said that except for the one issue, "we don’t have any reservations with the group".
“The expulsion of the French ambassador would affect our relations with the entire EU countries,” he said.
On Sunday, addressing a press conference along with Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi, National Assembly Speaker Asad Qaiser, and leaders of the TLP Shura in Islamabad, Muneeb announced that negotiations between the government and TLP had been successful.
He said a steering committee had been formed which will oversee the implementation of the pact. "Ali Muhammad Khan will head the committee," he said.
"The agreement was reached after sense prevailed over aggression. Rationality prevailed over sentiments, and all the participants demonstrated patience," he added.
"I want to urge the entire nation that this is not the victory of any individual, but it is the victory of Islam, patriotism, and protection of human lives.
"I want to tell the nation that these dialogues were not held under any duress. They were held in a serious, responsible, and independent environment, [in which] everyone made their contribution. Everyone deserves to be thanked for it," he said.
"The participants of the agreement entered the accord in the best interest of the country and its people. This agreement was reached before any untoward incident. This is the news for the entire nation, and the national media should portray it in a positive manner."
"I am thankful to the prime minister for empowering the committee and trusting it, and also to the committee for working dedicatedly to resolve this matter," he said. "Similarly, the TLP demonstrated the same behaviour."
"The agreement was also backed by TLP chief Hafiz Saad Hussain Rizvi," Muneeb added.
While the government and TLP leadership have remained tight-lipped about the details of the agreement, Muneeb has indicated that the group would function as a political party in the future.
A source close to Muneeb told Business Recorder that TLP had demanded that it should be allowed to operate as a regular political party and the ban imposed on it by the Interior Ministry be removed.
The government has accepted this demand, the source said.
"This is the reason Muneeb has been hopeful that the TLP would soon be out in public as a political party," the source said.
"The French envoy is not in Pakistan, which gives TLP a reason to soften its stance," the insider said.
When asked by Business Recorder, Muneeb refused to share details whether the release of TLP chief Saad Rizvi and expulsion of the French envoy were part of the agreement.
"I cannot confirm or deny anything at this point. When the time comes, you will get to know everything," he said.
Business Recorder also tried to contact central TLP leaders Waheed Noor and Hafeezullah Alvi on their personal phones for their comments on the matter but they were not available.
Interior Minister Rashid, when approached, gave a brief reply "I was not directly involved in the negotiations leading to this agreement. So, I won't say anything," he said and dropped the phone call.
Although the TLP is presently banned by the federal government, it is still registered as a political party with the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP).
The TLP continues to field its candidates in different by-elections of national and provincial legislatures and its candidates received thousands of votes even after the ban. The ECP is yet to receive any official correspondence from the federal government regarding banning TLP from the list of political parties registered with ECP.
The ECP can ban or de-list any political party only if ordered by the Supreme Court to do so, ECP sources told Business Recorder.
Earlier, Minister for Information and Broadcasting Fawad Chaudhry said that the government had decided to consider the TLP a "militant organisation."
“We have taken a clear policy decision that the banned TLP will now be considered a militant organisation,” he said while addressing a press conference in Islamabad on Wednesday after the cabinet meeting chaired by Prime Minister Imran Khan.
“We will not treat them as a political organisation anymore,” he emphasised.