The National Security Committee (NSC) has vowed not to allow the banned Tehreek-e-Labbaik Pakistan (TLP) to challenge the writ of the state while taking serious note of the violent attacks carried out by activists of the proscribed organisation.
The statement comes following the 35th meeting of the NSC which was convened under the chairmanship of Prime Minister Imran Khan on Friday, according to an official statement.
The high-level huddle was attended by relevant federal cabinet members, national security adviser, Chairman Joint Chiefs of Staff Committee, all three services chiefs, director-generals of ISI, IB and FIA, and other senior civil and military officers.
The NSC received a detailed briefing on the country’s internal security situation and the ongoing agitation by the TLP.
PM Imran stressed that no group or entity will be allowed to cause public disruption or use violence to pressure the government.
Taking serious note of the unprovoked violent attacks committed by the TLP members, the committee resolved not to tolerate any further breach of law by this proscribed group.
The meeting praised the police for their professionalism and restraint despite being directly targeted and suffering casualties, including four martyrs and over four hundred injured, but warned that the “state’s restraint should not be seen as a sign of weakness”.
While emphasising that the government recognised the right of peaceful protest of all Pakistanis, the committee members were unanimous that the TLP is deliberately employing violence against public property, state officials and ordinary citizens to create instability in the country and that this shall not be tolerated. “All organs of the state stood ready to act as per the law to protect the life and property of citizens.”
The prime minister and the committee members expressed condolences at the loss of life of policemen and committed to compensating and looking after their families.
Commending the exceptional performance of the law enforcement agencies, PM Imran assured that the government will firmly stand behind them as they act to enforce the law and protect the public.
The NSC took notice that no previous government or prime minister had taken such an unequivocal, public international stance on the issue of Namoos-e-Risalat and Islamophobia, read the communiqué.
“Under the current government, Pakistan has successfully brought these issues to the fore of international diplomatic discourse in the United Nations, Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC), and European Union, among other fora.”
Also read: Doors open for negotiations, Rashid says after NSC meeting
According to the official statement, one key objective of establishing the Rehmatul-lil-Alameen Authority is also to intellectually counter international propaganda against Islam and sanctity of the Prophet (PBUH).
The participants decried TLP’s misuse of religion and the issue of Namoos-e-Risalat for political gains, which was misleading the common man and creating internal discord within society.
The statement said TLP’s violence had ended up furthering the agenda of sectarian elements and external enemies of the state. It was pointed out that despite the overwhelming majority of the “over 1.5 billion Muslims globally holding utmost love and respect for our Prophet (PBUH), no such violent agitation had taken place in any other Muslim country”.
The civil and military leadership recalled that the TLP had adopted the ploy of violent street agitation on numerous occasions since 2017 and made unrealistic demands each time, solely as a tool to gain political strength. “In the process, TLP’s actions have caused public disorder, serious economic losses to the country, besides boosting the morale of other terrorist outfits seeking to challenge the state’s writ.”
The committee unanimously resolved to guard its sovereignty from all internal and external threats and to not allow the “TLP to challenge the writ of the state in any way”.
The participants endorsed the government’s decision to negotiate with the group only within the bounds of law, without offering leniency for any crimes committed by the TLP operatives.
Endorsing the view of the committee, the premier instructed that all measures and actions necessary to enforce the law and protect the interests of the state and public shall be ensured.
Talks with TLP
While addressing the media after the NSC meeting, Federal Minister for Interior Sheikh Rashid said the government is still willing to negotiate with the TLP in a bid to settle the issue without bloodshed.
The two-hour-long meeting was held to take stock of the situation in the wake of violent protests by the banned TLP.
According to the federal minister, talks were underway between the government and Saad Rizvi, the chief of TLP, on ending the banned group’s march towards Islamabad.
“Religious Minister Noorul Haq Qadri and I will meet the TLP leadership in Islamabad tonight to find a solution to this conflict,” he said, adding that he had also met the detained TLP chief in Lahore for talks.
Rashid said the government was still willing to talk to the banned outfit so that the issue could be resolved “amicably”. However, the state will not shy away from establishing its writ, he warned.
He said four policemen had been martyred in clashes with TLP workers, while more than 80 had been injured, eight of them critically.
Read TLP will be treated as ‘militant outfit’
The minister said it was the responsibility of the government to ensure the safety of citizens’ property and lives.
Rashid also told journalists that Prime Minister Imran Khan will address the nation on Saturday or Sunday. He said the premier’s speech would outline a “narrative” with respect to the TLP protests.
He urged the TLP to halt their protest in light of the talks with the government and said he wanted to resolve the issue amicably, but if the TLP wasn’t interested he could not say anything about it.
“We stand by our position and we are waiting for them (TLP) to abide by their commitment to open the GT Road.”
Speaking about the TLP protests, he said the banned outfit has marched on Islamabad at least seven times and added that the TLP should reconsider its decision to stage a protest in Islamabad as the protest has brought life in twin cities to a standstill.
In a reference to one of the TLP’s demands, the minister said the government had taken the matter of the French ambassador’s expulsion to the parliament for a debate. The opposition would not vote in favour of such a move because of the obvious consequences, he added.