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Top civil-military leadership convenes NSC huddle amid violent protests

ISLAMABAD – The National Security Council of Pakistan Friday discussed the situation in the wake of violent protests launched by a banned outfit government, and decided to “amicably” resolve the matter that has disrupted life in the country’s most populous province.

The key meeting was attended by Chief of Army Staff General Qamar Javed Bajwa, DG ISI, National Security Advisor Moeed Yusuf, Interior Minister Sheikh Rasheed Ahmed, Information Minister Fawad Chaudhry, Air Chief Mujahid Anwar Khan, and Naval Chief Admiral M Amjad Khan Niazi.

Interior Minister Sheikh Rashid Ahmed, speaking from a presser after the crucial meeting, said the negotiations were underway between the government and banned organisation on ending the march to Islamabad.

Briefing the media in Islamabad after the NSC meeting convened by Prime Minister Imran Khan, Rasheed mentioned that Prime Minister will address the nation tomorrow (Saturday) about the security situation, saying the premier will present the situation before the nation.

“Our doors for negotiations are still open. We are talking to the detained leader of TLP,” said Rasheed while adding that the talks between the two sides will resume today. He added that the talks between the right-wing party and government are being led by himself and Religious Affairs Minister Noorul Haq Qadri.

Rashid said the security of Punjab has been handed over to the Rangers and Prime Minister Imran Khan has given clear instructions that the government won’t tolerate those who challenge the writ of the state and disrupt the peace in Pakistan.

Amid the top NSC meeting, the authorities have placed shipping containers over Chenab and Jhelum bridges to counter the charged protesters from advancing to Islamabad. Around four law enforcement personnel had been martyred in clashes with TLP workers, while scores suffered injuries.

In twin cities, the authorities have blocked the entry and exit points to the city due to a feared disturbance in the law and order situation in the wake of the march.

Rangers and police contingents are also deployed at the Chenab toll plaza to counter the violent protesters. The security personnel also have armoured vehicles with them and are equipped with riot gear, per reports. Punjab Rangers have also marked a ‘red line’, and put up a notice nearby warning the protesters not to breach the line.

Earlier today, Minister for Information Fawad Chaudhry said at least 36 activists of the militant outfit, who were involved in using fake social media accounts to propagate hate, have been detained. He also added that more arrests will be made shortly.

Meanwhile, Punjab CM Usman Buzdar also held a separate meeting to deal with the TLP protests. Punjab Law Minister Raja Basharat, Special Assistant for Information Hassan Khawar, Punjab Chief Secretary, Inspector General of Police, Additional Chief Secretary Home, Principal Secretary to the Chief Minister, Additional IG Special Branch and other officials attended the meeting.

Police in the provincial capital registered two cases against the workers of the banned organization under the charges of disrupting law and order while different teams were carrying out raids to arrest others.

Shortly before the two meetings began on Friday, Federal Information Minister Fawad Chaudry announced that a crackdown against the TLP social media activists had been launched. 

On Thursday, Federal Minister for Information Fawad Chaudhry took to Twitter where he shared a tweet in light of today’s meet up.

“In view of the situation arising because of the illegal activities of the proscribed organisation, Prime Minister Imran Khan has convened a meeting of the National Security Committee tomorrow. Other issues related to national security will also be considered in this meeting”, the tweet reads.

The violent protests by proscribed group members entered the eighth day today while law enforcement personnel have cordoned off major highways to counter the charged activists.

Meanwhile, strict security measures have been made in twin cities. Metro service has been suspended while the metropolis suffered major traffic jams.

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