ISLAMABAD: The protest that has brought the capital to a standstill has entered its 16th day after various rounds of talks between the government and protesters ended in a stalemate.
Talks held on Saturday and then on Monday failed with no breakthrough in sight as protest leaders continue to demand the resignation of Federal Minister for Law and Justice Zahid Hamid.
The government, however, has formed another committee under senior cleric Pir Hussainuddin for negotiations with the protesters and to suggest a comprehensive solution to the problem.
Following a meeting of government representatives and protest leaders on Monday, Interior Minister Ahsan Iqbal again expressed hope of peaceful resolution of the issue.
“We all agree that this issue should be resolved as soon as possible in a peaceful manner. Pakistan cannot be affected by any kind of bloodletting,’ said the interior minister.
The meeting, after its conclusion also issued a joint statement, which stated that there is absolutely no room for error in the Khatam-e-Nabuwat clause and a committee, formed with PML-N leader Raja Zafar-ul-Haq in the chair, will identify those responsible for the mistake and the change in the oath.
Iqbal further said that the committee formed under Haq will expedite the report and present it once completed
He added that Khatam-e-Nabuwat is the basis of Islam and the wish of the government is to resolve the issue “in hours, not days’.
“For the sake of the Ummah, the religion, and the country, we have to peacefully resolve the sit-in.”
On Sunday, the interior minister had said that all options are available for dispersing the Islamabad protest, adding that a security operation is the last option as the government will try to avoid bloodshed.
The Islamabad High Court had given the government until 10am, November 18 to remove the protesters blocking the Faizabad Interchange ‘with force if need be’ but the government did not do so and instead opted for negotiations to find a peaceful way out.
The religious parties have been protesting against the change in the finality of Prophethood oath in the law when the government passed the Elections Act 2017 last month. The change, dubbed a clerical error by the government, was immediately fixed as an amendment was passed later.
They also want responsibility fixed on other officials involved in the incident.
The protest has disrupted life in the capital and Rawalpindi, causing inconvenience as well as at least two reported casualties due to ambulances being unable to cross the protesters.