Sunday Oct 31, 2021
ISLAMABAD: Officials from the PTI government's negotiating team held on Sunday a press conference to update the public about their talks with the proscribed Tehreek-e-Labbaik Pakistan (TLP).
Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi and National Assembly Speaker Asad Qaiser were present on behalf of the government at the press conference, while Mufti Muneeb-ur-Rehman was also present.
Rehman started the news conference held in Islamabad, saying talks with the proscribed TLP have been "successful" and that an "agreement" had been reached.
Details of the agreement, however, he said will be revealed at a "suitable time". He added that the positive outcomes of the agreement will be seen in the coming days.
He said that the agreement reached with the government was not a victory or defeat of any individual, but a victory of Islam and Pakistan.
Rehman shared that a steering committee has been constituted under the agreement which will be headed by Minister of State for Parliamentary Affairs Ali Muhammad Khan, while Mufti Ghulam Ghous Baghdadi from TLP will join the committee. He said the committee will become active from today and start its work.
"The government of Pakistan and the TLP had a detailed discussion under the environment of mutual trust, and an agreement has been reached between the two sides," Rehman announced, clarifying that the talks did not take place under any duress or in an atmosphere of tension.
He said that rationality had prevailed over sentimentalism and a consensus had been reached between the government and the proscibed TLP movement.
The government was scheduled to address the press conference earlier in the day at 11:15am initially, according to a handout by the Press Information Department (PID). The news conference was, however, delayed and after being rescheduled twice, was finally held at 2:45pm.
Earlier, sources privy to the development had said that the activists of the proscribed organisation will first end their sit-in from the Grand Trunk Road (GT Road), under the agreement. Meanwhile, the government will complete the legal formalities to release the arrested workers of TLP.
The well-placed sources had said that the successful round of talks was held last night between the high-powered government team and the top leadership of the TLP.
Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi briefly spoke after Rehman, saying that it was decided in a meeting of the National Security Committee that the talks with TLP should be given priority and that the problem should be dealt with wisely.
Speaking about the agreement, Qureshi said that a path of peace and improvement had been found. He said damage to property and loss of life was seen in just a few days, referring to the proscribed outfit's protests.
He said Pakistan did not benefit from the chaos.
Qureshi ended his brief address with a statement that there would be no question and answer session with media personnel.
Before the press conference, earlier in the day, a TLP spokesperson had rejected media reports on the talks between the federal government and TLP being successful. He had said that it will be "too early to say anything about the negotiation".
He had urged people to "refrain from spreading rumors" and clarified that negotiations with the government were still underway.
“There is no truth in the reports being aired on TV channels about the successful dialogue,” he had added.
The TLP spokesperson said that the success or failure of the talks with the government will be announced by his party leadership.
A day earlier, Minister of Religious Affairs and Interfaith Harmony Pir Noor-ul-Haq Qadri had said Saturday a 12-member committee had been formed to play the negotiator's role between the government and TLP.
Speaking to the media after attending a meeting of the state officials and religious scholars belonging to the Barelvi school of thought — with Prime Minister Imran Khan in the chair — Qadri had said that the committee is in talks with the government as well as the leaders of the proscribed organisation.
The federal minister had said religious leaders from across the country met the prime minister and expressed the resolve to wrap up the matter peacefully.
Qadri had said the premier told the meeting's participants that the incumbent government has always welcomed meaningful and serious talks.