ISLAMABAD: The agreement between the government and Tehreek-e-Labbaik Pakistan (TLP) gives immunity to the controversial video statement of top TLP leader Pir Afzal Qadri against the prime minister, army chief and three judges of the apex court, a signatory of the deal said.
One of the government representatives, who had signed the agreement to end the latest sit-in of the TLP in different cities across Pakistan, told The News on condition of anonymity that as per the agreement, the government is bound to ignore what Pir Afzal Qadri had said.
The source said that it was the government’s demand to get an apology from the TLP leadership for what was said against the key constitutional office holders of the country. The source said that the provision of “apology” was made part of the agreement to avoid any criminal proceeding against the TLP leadership for what they had uttered in the controversial video statement.
The source, however, warned that if the TLP decides to come again on streets and resorts to protest, then the agreement will also be deemed to have ended. Information Minister Fawad Chaudhry when contacted said that in his view, the government-TLP agreement does not give any immunity to the video-statement of Pir Afzal Qadri. The minister suggested to this correspondent to talk to the minister of religious affairs Noorul Haq Qadri who would be in a better position to explain this point.
The TLP had agreed to end the countrywide protests and sit-ins against acquittal of Aasia Bibi following the five-point agreement reached between the two sides. The five points of the agreement are listed below: 1. A review petition has been filed in the Aasia Bibi case, which is the right of the petitioners. The government will raise no objections over the review petition. 2. Due process will be followed immediately to include the name of Aasia Bibi in the Exit Control List (ECL). 3. Immediate legal action will be taken over the martyrdom of any individuals during the protest campaign against the acquittal of Aasia Bibi. 4. All those arrested on October 30 or afterwards in the protest campaign against Aasia Bibi’s acquittal will be released immediately. 5. The TLP apologises to anybody whose sentiments have been unnecessarily hurt during the incident.
The agreement was signed by Federal Minister for Religious Affairs Sahibzada Dr Noorul Haq Qadri, Punjab Law Minister Raja Basharat, representing the government, and Pir Mohammad Afzal Qadri and Mohammad Waheed Noor from the TLP. After the controversial video statement of Pir Afzal Qadri, the prime minister chose to speak to the nation and said that those who are inciting the people against the judges, army and state institutions are doing disservice to the country.
In a stern warning to the TLP protestors, the prime minister had said, “I appeal to these elements… do not clash with the state. I appeal to you, don’t harm this country in order to increase your vote bank. If you continue doing this, let me make it clear to you… the state will fulfill its duty and protect people’s properties and lives. We will not allow any vandalism [or] blockage of traffic. I appeal to you; do not take the state to a point where it has no option but to take action.”
Although, many in the media and opposition parties and some even from within the PTI government are criticising the agreement, others see it as a timely solution to the issue, which had all the potential to aggravate beyond anyone’s control.
While Dr Shireen Mazari and Fawad Chaudhry had voiced their reservations at the government-TLP agreement, there are others including Minister of State for Interior Shehryar Khan Afridi who are of the view that this deal had helped avoid the Lal Masjid like situation.
During Musharraf’s tenure, a section of the media, some opposition parties and a few anchorpersons had forced the-then dictator to launch military-led operation against the Lal Masjid, which had resulted in the killing of dozens of people. Later, seen as Lal Masjid massacre, the government action had not only led to phenomenal rise in terrorism incidents in Pakistan but also seriously weakened the Musharraf rule.