Thursday Oct 28, 2021
LAHORE: Protests by members of banned outfit Tehreek-i-Labbaik Pakistan (TLP) entered their seventh day today (Thursday), with protesters camping out in Kamoke since last night.
The activists of the proscribed organisation marching towards Islamabad have set up camp on the Kamoke portion of GT Road, while they make preparations to move ahead in their march. Business centres in the city and on GT Road are closed and so are the shops and restaurants on the highway.
Public and private educational institutions located on GT Road and its adjoining areas have also been closed and internet services in Kamoke have been suspended.
A trench has been dug by the government on GT Road near Chenab Bridge and containers have also been placed, while the road from Wazirabad to Sialkot has been excavated and the land route between the two cities has been cut off to block the protesters from moving forward.
Repair work on the ditches dug on the Sadhoke stretch of the road, meanwhile, could not be started.
Security has been tightened in Rawalpindi and Murree Road is completely closed for traffic, while the Rawalpindi Metrobus service is closed till further notice.
Meanwhile, the ministry of interior is in talks with the proscribed organisation, including its leader Saad Rizvi, who is currently imprisoned.
A spokesperson for the proscribed organisation said that Allama Ghulam Abbas Faizi and Mufti Umair Al-Azhari are also part of the delegation negotiating with the government.
The spokesman further said that the proscribed organisation stands by its demands that it will present before the government during the talks.
"Our only demand from day one is the removal of the French ambassador," said the spokesman.
The Pakistan government announced a day earlier its decision to treat the proscribed TLP as a militant organisation, with Interior Minister Sheikh Rasheed sharing that the government had summoned the Punjab Rangers to maintain the law and order situation for two months in the province amid the ongoing protests.
Speaking during a press conference in Islamabad, the interior minister had said that the government wants to establish peace as there is a lot of international pressure on Pakistan.
"We have decided to summon the Rangers for a period of 60 days to maintain law and order situation in the province," Rasheed had said. "Like Karachi, Rangers have been called in Punjab under Section 4 (2) of the Anti-Terrorism Act 1997, read with Article 147 of the Constitution of Pakistan."
Three more policemen were martyred in the protest yesterday, while many policemen were also injured in the violence.
So far, since the start of the TLP protest, five policemen have lost their lives to the violence and countless police vehicles have been set on fire by the protesters.
According to the latest traffic alert issued by the Islamabad Traffic Police, the following major roads and avenues are completely open for both sides of traffic amid the incoming TLP protesters:
However, some roads are partially closed. IJP Road is closed towards Stadium Road and towards Faizabad at the 9th Avenue signal. Alternatively, traffic is being diverted to 9th Avenue and IJP Road.
Meanwhile, Murree Road, too, is closed for both sides from the Faizul Islam stop till Rawal Dam Chowk. Alternatively, traffic from the Rawal Dam Chowk is being diverted to the Srinagar Highway, which can be further used to reach Rawalpindi via 9th Avenue and IJP Road.
Similarly, Lehtrar Road can be used to reach the Islamabad Expressway.
Meanwhile, Federal Minister for Planning and Development Asad Umar said during an appearance on Geo News programme Aaj Shahzeb Khanzada Kay Sath that the state tried to persuade the banned TLP through dialogue for a long time, but the group resorted to violence.
He said there was evidence that the TLP is receiving external support. The decisions taken by the government have been in consultation with military.
How long will the young men in the police and army continue to pay the price for the unwise policies of Islamabad and Pindi, questioned Senator Mustafa Nawaz Khokhar.
Ten brave soldiers of the security forces were killed while fighting against religious extremists only yesterday, the senator said, detailing that two army and four police personnel were martyred by the TTP in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and four in Punjab.
He said that even today, the solution to our problems lie in implementing the National Action Plan.
Khokhar opined that the current situation is the outcome whenever religion and extremist groups are used for political purposes. He questioned when our state and political parties would understand this.
He said that if everyone were to stand united [against the TLP protesters] and to support the Punjab Police in this time, there would have been no need to call in the Rangers.
The Punjab Police, he said, is fully capable of dealing with and controlling these protesters, he said, adding that he stands with the Punjab Police men and officers at this difficult time.
The banned TLP extended its protest on Rabiul Awwal 12. Initially, the proscribed group staged sit-ins in Multan and Lahore, after which a march towards Islamabad was announced.
Security forces had cordoned off major roads to prevent the protesters from reaching Islamabad. The protesters have been staging sit-ins on GT Road for the past several days, disrupting transport services.
TLP's march has affected life in the federal capital and various other cities in Punjab.
Strict security arrangements have been made in Rawalpindi. The main highways connecting Islamabad and Rawalpindi have been sealed and the Faizabad Metro service has been suspended. Major traffic jams have been reported on alternative routes and citizens are facing difficulties as it has also become difficult to go to a hospital.