- Information Minister adds there is no discussion in the PTI to make an electoral alliance with TLP
Federal Minister for Information Fawad Chaudhry said on Tuesday that details of the government's agreement with the banned Tehreek-e-Labbaik Pakistan (TLP) have not been discussed in the federal cabinet yet, adding that only Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi can talk about the issue.
Talking to reporters in Islamabad after the cabinet meeting chaired by Prime Minister Imran Khan, Fawad added that there is no discussion in the PTI, the ruling party, to make an electoral alliance with the TLP.
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.
Earlier in the day, responding to reports on social media that a religious party will play a major role in the formation of the government in the next election, Fawad tweeted that an alliance with an "extremist group means international isolation".
"Religious extremists groups have the capacity to use mob for violence but their capacity to stir politics has always been limited," he wrote.
Meanwhile, the Punjab government released 869 workers of the TLP earlier today as part of the secretive agreement made with the group.
The workers released had no cases against them, the Punjab Home Department said in a statement. The statement further said that those whose names are in the fourth schedule of the Anti-Terrorism Act (ATA) are not being released.
At least 50 workers were also released from Adiala Jail. The release comes after members of the negotiating team from the government side claimed that they had reached an agreement with TLP.
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, former Ruet-i-Hilal Committee Chairman Mufti Muneebur Rehman 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.
On Monday, Muneeb told reporters in Karachi that some of the government’s ministers had looked to mislead that the TLP demanded the expulsion of the French ambassador and the shutdown of its embassy in Pakistan.
“Any such demand was never made during the talks, and some of the government ministers lied about it,” Muneeb said.
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.
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.
Earlier, Fawad had 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.