Twin cities return to normalcy after sit-in called off following agreement

Citizens take a sigh of relief after their 21-days-long miseries end with Monday's breakthrough between govt, protesters


All sections of the Expressway and Motorway have been reopened for traffic after the 21-day-long sit-in at Faizabad Interchange was called off early Monday. — Geo News

ISLAMABAD: The three-week long sit-in, which had paralysed the federal capital, was called off early Monday after protesters reached an agreement with the government.

The agreement was reached following the voluntary resignation of Law Minister Zahid Hamid. The Faizabad Interchange — the site of the sit-in — has been cleared of containers with traffic partially restored.

The vicinity was completely cleared late on Monday night, while 25 protesters, detained at different police stations, were also released from custody after the two sides reached an agreement.

After the protesters dispersed, the Faizabad Interchange was completely opened for traffic, following partial restoration of traffic flow in the evening.

Sources informed Geo News that members of the religious group, who had been protesting in the capital, will go to Lahore via Murree Road.

The interchange and surrounding areas were being cleaned up in the evening, while all sections of the Expressway and Motorway were reopened for traffic.

Street lights and traffic signals around the area were switched on, after being switched off earlier during the sit-in.

Life returned to normalcy in the twin cities of Islamabad and Rawalpindi, with shops and businesses reopened at and around Faizabad Interchange.

The Metro bus service will also resume by Tuesday morning, it has been learnt. 

Citizens have taken a sigh of relief after their 21-days-long misery ended with Monday's breakthrough and peaceful dispersal of protesters.

Sit-in called off 

A religious party made the official announcement to end the sit-in around 10:30am. The party's leader said they were given 12 hours to move out.

He appealed to protesters across the country to disperse, adding that the Faizabad-based protesters are packing up their things and will soon vacate the sit-in site.

The party's leader also temporarily took the media hostage after he learned that his press conference was not given live coverage due to the government's ban. However, media personnel were given safe passage after the Rangers intervened. 

Containers around the sit-in site are being moved following the agreement. Photo: Geo News

Agreement between govt and protesters 

According to the agreement, the government will release, within 30 days, the report of the committee set up to probe the change in the amendment to the Finality of Prophethood declaration for electoral candidates in the Elections Act 2017. It also states that those found responsible are punished according to the relevant laws. 

The agreement also includes the condition that the workers of religious parties, arrested since November 6, 2017, will have to be released and cases against them dismissed.

It is also stated in the agreement that an inquiry board will be set up to probe the events surrounding the government action against protesters on November 25 and fix responsibility.  

Law minister resigns 

Late on Sunday, the law minister voluntarily stepped down. Hamid tendered his resignation to Prime Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi, which was accepted later today.

The protesters' first demand was the resignation of the law minister.

The decision comes in the wake of the protests that continued across the country, following Saturday's crackdown by the police and paramilitary personnel on the Islamabad sit-in staged by the religious party.

The government tried to negotiate with the protesters while refusing the demand for the resignation of the law minister, but all the talks of negotiations were unsuccessful until Hamid tendered his resignation.

"In order to restore peace in the country, I have decided to step down from my position," said Hamid.

Senator Raja Zafar-ul-Haq is heading the committee formed earlier by Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz leader Nawaz Sharif to fix the responsibility for the introduction of the controversial amendment to the Finality of Prophethood declaration for electoral candidates.

Besides Haq, Federal Minister for Interior Affairs Ahsan Iqbal and Minister for Climate Change Mushahidullah Khan are also part of the committee.

The committee was formed on October 7 to probe the issue as it had attracted backlash from various quarters, even though the mistake was rectified soon after the amendment was made.

The committee headed by the senator is expected to present a report related to the controversial amendment to the Islamabad High Court.