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RAWALPINDI: The provincial government of Punjab on Friday formed a two-member committee to negotiate with the banned Tehreek-e-Labbiak Pakistan (TLP) ahead of the party’s long march to the federal capital.
Taking to Twitter, Punjab Chief Minister Usman Buzdar announced, “Law Minister Raja Basharat and Prosecution Minister Chaudhry Zaheeruddin will lead the provincial government’s efforts to hold talks with the proscribed party”.
The chief minister further said that according to the Sunnah of Holy Prophet Muhammad (SAWW), “we all need to work together for peace and harmony in the country”.
TLP leader Pir Ajmal Qadri had said the “peaceful” procession would begin after Friday prayers. “If any hurdles are created, the party also has a Plan B to thwart any official attempts,” he had told a charged crowd at a protest site in Lahore.
The group had delinked the march from the release of its incarcerated leader, Saad Hussain Rizvi, and said the purpose of the move was “respect for the Holy Prophet (PBUH)”.
On Thursday, Qadri had advised workers to continue the mission of the group’s founder, the late Khadim Hussain Rizvi, even if “we are martyred in the march”, and asked the government to implement the agreement — a reference to the accord reached with the TLP last November to sever diplomatic and economic ties with France.
Security in the twin cities has been placed on high alert with major highways, including the Murree Road, sealed with containers and barricades in an effort to deal with the TLP’s planned march from Lahore to Islamabad.
In Rawalpindi, link roads from Marir chowk to the Faizabad Interchange and Murree Road to the inner city have been closed for traffic, while roads from Shamsabad and Faizabad to Islamabad have been completely sealed by containers.
The expressway from Islamabad, however, was being kept open for traffic in the morning. Heavy contingents of law enforcement personnel have been deployed at major intersections and at metro stations to deal with any untoward incidents.
Meanwhile, Lahore Chief Traffic Officer (CTO) Muntazir Mehdi said that traffic flow was as per usual on all entry and exit points of the city as well as on Ferozepur Road, Jail Road, Wahdat Road, Mall Road and Canal Road. He said that traffic also remained unaffected in Chungi Amar Sadhu, Thokar Niaz Baig, Chung and Mohlanwal areas, as well as on GT Road.
However, roads connecting Babu Sabu to Scheme Morr and Scheme Morr to Yateem Khana Chowk have been closed for traffic, while a protest by blind persons is under way at Secretariat Chowk, he said.
On Tuesday, the banned TLP announced that it would turn its main Eid-e-Miladun Nabi rally in Lahore into a protest sit-in and urged the government to ensure implementation of the agreement reached with the party in the past.