ISLAMABAD: Interior Minister Ahsan Iqbal on Thursday said the Pakistani state is on one page regarding the ongoing sit-in at Faizabad Interchange by members of a religious party.
Iqbal reiterated the government’s stance and said that efforts are underway to resolve the issue peacefully and avoid bloodshed.
“One option is a security operation, as the interior minister I can order an operation and clear the space in a matter of three hours,” said Iqbal.
He added that with an operation, there’s no guarantee that bloodshed will not happen and a repeat of Model Town or Lal Masjid will not occur.
“I am not the interior minister of Faizabad Interchange, I am the interior minister of Pakistan and hence have to take measures after looking at the situation across the country.”
Elaborating on the measures taken to resolve the crisis plaguing the twin cities for 18 days, Iqbal said multiple rounds of negotiations have taken place at various levels, but the protesters are not budging from their demand of Zahid Hamid’s resignation.
The law minister will not resign due to the ego and stubbornness of certain people, said the minister while adding that only the parliament can demand the law minister’s resignation.
Earlier today, the Supreme Court said that the writ of one man was prevailing and not the state’s.
The bench, comprising Justice Qazi Faez Isa and Justice Mushir Alam, expressed its displeasure at the unrelenting situation and noted that the residents of Islamabad and Rawalpindi were facing serious problems as a result of the sit-in.
“When the writ of the state ends, decisions are made on streets,” Justice Isa remarked, adding without taking any names, “this dharna [sit-in] is all about one man’s ego and his quest to get fame.”
The Army said on Wednesday that it would act upon whatever decision the government makes on the ongoing sit-in in Islamabad.
General Ghafoor, however, said it is better to diffuse the situation through mutual understanding, adding that whatever decision the government makes in this regard would be acted upon.
The Supreme Court had taken notice of the protests on Tuesday and had sought replies from the relevant government quarters. The apex court had also issued notices to Inspector General Islamabad Police and Attorney General.
On Wednesday, at least four security personnel were injured when the protesters resorted to pelting stones at security forces deployed in the area. Four FC and police personnel, including SP Saddar Amir Niazi, were injured as a result.
The protest has resulted in severe issues for residents of the capital and Rawalpindi, who face traffic jams and mobility issues on a daily basis. At least two casualties due to ambulances being unable to cross the protesters have also been reported.
Talks between the government and protesters 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 protests are being held 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.