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Saturday, 18 November 2017

Operation in Islamabad postponed; govt, protesters to hold formal talks

Policemen watch the activists of the religious group at a blocked street during a week-long protest in Islamabad on November 17, 2017. AFP/Aamir Qureshi
Policemen watch the activists of the religious group at a blocked street during a week-long protest in Islamabad on November 17, 2017. AFP/Aamir Qureshi


ISLAMABAD: Interior Minister Ahsan Iqbal on Saturday ordered the city administration to give protesters blocking the Faizabad Interchange 24 more hours to end the sit-in which has paralyzed the city for over 10 days.
The minister said that he wants the protest to end peacefully and without any issue, but added that implementation on the court order to disperse the protesters will be started after 24 hours.
Iqbal also called upon religious leaders and scholars to play their role in helping end the stalemate. 
According to sources, formal talks between delegations of the government and protesters will be held shortly. Government representatives would include Iqbal and Pakistan senior Muslim League-Nawaz leader Zafarul Haq. The two had held talks throughout Friday night which failed to produce any results, Iqbal said.
As per an order of the Islamabad High Court (IHC) issued yesterday, protesters staging a sit-in at the interchange had until 10 AM today (Saturday) to vacate the key route.
Iqbal's order comes after contingents of the police and FC arrived early morning and were gearing up to disperse demonstrators should they fail to meet the court ordered-deadline. 

Lives come to a standstill

Resident of the capital continue to face immense issues as mobility remains limited. Police sources said that the city administration has asked citizens at Murree Road to move to secure locations and directed shop owners to keep the shops closed.
Residents of I-8 and Faizabad have been asked to remain in their homes while the city administration has declared emergency in hospitals. The administration has also closed all routes towards Islamabad for unnecessary traffic. 
The IHC on Friday took notice of the non-implementation of its earlier orders that directed the protest at Faizabad Interchange to be dislodged. 
Acting upon the court-set deadline, the district administration had set a 10 PM target on Friday for protesters to end the sit-in, which, as it turns out, was ignored.
Protesters have not taken the court orders seriously, Justice Siddiqui had remarked during the court proceedings, adding that the district administration has failed to use its powers.
"Freedom of expression does not mean that the rights of other citizens are usurped," he added. 
Justice Siddiqui maintained that the administration failed to play its due role in resolving the crisis and merely watched the spectacle unfold as a ‘cricket spectator’.

No need to protest after Khatam-e-Nabuwat clause restored

Interior Minister Ahsan Iqbal on Friday said that there is no need to continue the protest as clause pertaining to Khatam-e-Nabuwat (Finality of Prophethood) has been restored to its original form. 
"The protesters no longer need to protest as we have given them a bigger law than they asked for", he remarked, adding "the issue has been resolved".


Contingents of the police and FC arrived early morning to disperse demonstrators
Contingents of the police and FC arrived early morning to disperse demonstrators



All the parties came together to restore the clauses of Khatam-e-Nabuwat [Finality of Prophethood] to their original form, he said while speaking to media at Press Information Department on Friday. 
The Senate on Friday passed the Elections Amendment Bill, 2017, related to Khatam-e-Nabuwat clauses for voters, after the National Assembly (NA) did the same on Thursday.
Two religious parties have been camped at the key route linking Islamabad and Rawalpindi for nearly two weeks in protest against the government's change, and then reversal, of the finality of Prophethood oath for lawmakers when it passed the Elections Act, 2017 last month. 
They have demanded the resignation of Law Minister Zahid Hamid and other officials responsible for what the government termed a ‘clerical mistake’.

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