‘Can’t shut embassies or expel French envoy’

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ISLAMABAD: Interior Minister Sheikh Rashid Ahmad Tuesday expressed the hope that the banned Tehreek-e-Labbaik Pakistan (TLP) leadership would call off its sit-in protest as the government had accepted its major demands except for expulsion of French envoy or closure of any embassy.

Addressing a presser, he said the report on the dialogue with the TLP leadership had been submitted to the prime minister, which was also discussed in a meeting held Tuesday in the presence of civil and military leadership besides chief secretaries and inspector generals of police. “The meeting had shown willingness to accept all the demands of TLP,” he said and added “we have no reservations on any of their demand except that of the French Embassy.” The minister said it was TLP’s commitment to open roads by Tuesday midnight. “So now we are waiting for this. I will contact them once again today as well as tomorrow. I want a permanent solution to the issue rather than letting it linger on any further,” he said. He said the government was making sincere efforts to get positive results from talks.

Sheikh Rashid said despite the martyrdom of two policemen and 70 others injured, including two in critical condition, the government still wanted to resolve this issue with mutual understanding and cooperation. The minister said majority of the TLP workers were released while the government was ready to discuss the issue of the remaining workers who were in jails, besides the issue of those in the Fourth Schedule. Against this backdrop, “we want them to review their only one demand related to the French Ambassador and French Embassy,” he said.

Shaikh Rashid hoped that the TLP leadership would understand the situation as enemies of the country were hatching conspiracies to impose sanctions against Pakistan and hundreds of thousands of Pakistanis were working abroad.

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He said it was TLP’s sixth sit-in as, on November 8, 2017, they held their first sit-in, while second was in August 2018, third in November 2018, fourth was about the boycott of French products, while the fifth one was held April 2021.

He said the government was working on several options to control inflation on the directives of Prime Minister Imran Khan. He said the prime minister was seriously considering this issue as he wanted to address this as early as possible to give a sigh of relief to the people. The inflation, he said was interlinked with increasing oil prices in the international markets, and added that several countries were facing the same issue.

He said the military leadership and elected political leadership were on the same page.Meanwhile, Prime Minister Imran Khan met Chief of Army Staff (COAS) General Qamar Javed Bajwa, the Geo News reported while quoting sources. The sources said initially it was a one-on-one meeting between the two,. Later on, Director General Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) Lt Gen Faiz Hameed also joined in. The meeting focused on a review of the internal law and order situation of the country. The three meet routinely to discuss internal and external security matters.

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