ISLAMABAD: Interior Minister Sheikh Rashid said on Wednesday that so far 669 workers of the Tehreek-e-Labbaik Pakistan (TLP), a banned outfit, had been released.
Addressing a news conference in Lahore, the minister said it had been agreed between the government and the delegation of the banned outfit after seven-hour-long negotiations on April 20 that those members of the outfit would be released who had been taken into custody under the Maintenance of Public Order (MPO).
Sheikh Rashid said that 210 FIRs registered against the TLP activists, including the party chief Saad Rizvi, would go through the legal procedure.
He informed that sections of Anti-Terrorism Act (ATA) had been inserted in the case registered against Saad besides that related to murder; section 302.
The minister said that the TLP would be able to file an application for lifting of the ban imposed on it within 30 days, and that a special committee would decide the fate of that application. He added that Prime Minister Imran Khan would take the western countries into confidence on the sanctity of Prophet Muhammad (PBUH).
At the same time, however, he said categorically that the state of Pakistan could not be intimidated, and whosoever would take the law into his own hands would face the music.
Sheikh Rashid said it was unfortunate that the enemy country had unleashed the propaganda that Pakistan had descended into chaos, and that Pakistan Army was also engaged in a confrontation with the protestors.
“While truth of the matter is that need for calling in the army did not even arose,” he said. The interior minister said PM Imran was the first Pakistani leader who had talked so openly about sanctity of the last prophet Muhammad (PBUH).
He also praised the TLP leadership for continuing negotiations in a pleasant atmosphere. “It is the state that is to determine the future relations with any other country,” he asserted.
He further said it had been decided on the night of April 19 that a resolution would be tabled in the National Assembly on the following day (April 20) on blasphemous caricatures published in France, and that the expulsion of France’s ambassador to Pakistan would also be discussed.
The interior minister made it clear that all 220 million Muslims of Pakistan loved Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) from the bottom of their hearts.
He disclosed that the government was planning to introduce a special package for the families of those policemen who were killed in clashes with the activists of TLP.
He regretted that the kind of attitude Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) leader Shahid Khaqan Abbasi had displayed towards NA Speaker Asad Qaiser was very insulting.
Sheikh Rashid also condemned the attack on senior journalist Absar Alam, and said he had asked the Inspector General of Police Islamabad to order an inquiry into the incident.
He acknowledged that TLP was the third largest political party of Punjab.