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Govt reaches agreement with TLP, will unveil at ‘appropriate time’

Religious scholar Mufti Muneeb addresses the press conference. Source: PID/APP.

ISLAMABAD: The government’s negotiating team announced that it has struck an agreement with the proscribed Tehreek-i-Labbaik Pakistan (TLP) but did not give away any further details.

The announcement was made at a press conference held in Islamabad attended by Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi, National Assembly Speaker Asad Qaiser, MNA Ali Mohammad Khan, religious scholar Mufti Muneeb as well as TLP members Mufti Ghulam Abbas Faizi and Mufti Mohammad Ameer.

Addressing the press conference, Mufti Muneeb said a steering committee will be formed to monitor the implementation of the agreement. The committee will be headed by Minister of State for Parliamentary Affairs Ali Muhammad Khan and Punjab Law Minister Punjab Raja Basharat will be a member of the committee. Mufti Ghulam Ghous Baghdadi and Engr. Hafeezullah Alavi will represent TLP in the committee.

Mufti Muneeb further said that the salient features of the accord be made public at an appropriate time. “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,” he said.

“I want to urge the entire nation that this is not the victory of any individual, but it is the victory of Islam, patriotism, and protection of human lives. Everyone deserves to be thanked for it.”

Mufti Muneeb said that the “positive impact” of the agreement would be visible in the coming week.  He thanked all the parties involved for their help in striking the agreement, saying the agreement was also backed TLP chief Hafiz Saad Hussain Rizvi.

Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi said the Nation Security Committee  (NSC) had preferred to adopt the path of talks to the use of force. He recalled that the NSC meeting, after detailed deliberations, decided that talks will be preferred and focus will be to resolve this issue with sensibility.

Qureshi thanked the ulemas for “saving the country from a test” and explained why the government chose to negotiate rather than use force.  “We saw the loss of lives, property, chaos at hospital, difficulty in movement of people, fear of economic loss, and we chose the path of peace,” he said.

A day earlier, a new negotiating team — led Qureshi and comprising Qaiser and Khan — met TLP leaders while Prime Minister Imran Khan met with senior clerics at his Banigala residence.