- Interior Minister Nisar says D-Chowk will be cleared of protestors on Wednesday ‘in broad daylight’
- Says protestors went back on their promise when they launched their sit-in
Protestors dug in after failure of talks between the protesting clerics occupying D-Chowk in the capital and the federal government’s emissaries; stiff resistance was offered by around 2,000 protestors forcing the government to back down after government ministers had given an ultimatum to protestors to vacate the area within two hours, or force would be used.
Long after the clock ran out on the government ultimatum, the government appeared in a state of paralysis before Interior Minister Chaudhry Nisar finally announced the postponement of operation clean-up late Tuesday night. He said the operation would now be conducted in broad daylight so that no conspiracy can be hatched by any quarter.
Earlier, a delegation of eminent religious scholars from Karachi was allowed by the federal government to make a last ditch effort to convince the protestors to call off the sit-in. However, the delegation failed in their mission to woo the adamant clerics.
The situation looked grave at D-Chowk after a large contingent of police in anti-riot gear appeared to face off with protestors but no actual clash took place. Meanwhile a group of around 100 youth clad in black shirts, which displayed slogans of martyrdom kept reciting Quranic verses in a round circle from evening till late in the night as clerics held negotiations to avoid a possible breaking out of violence.
The federal government, however, did not hold talks with the protesters who had put forward their top three demands including the reopening of Mumtaz Qadri’s case and declaring him innocent and Shaheed, an assurance by the government that article 295-C (Blasphemy Law) would not be amended under western pressure and the release of all Barelvi leaders who have been arrested in the wake of the protest.
The decision not to hold talks with the protestors was taken at a high level meeting chaired by Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif and attended by Interior Minister Chaudhry Nisar, Finance Minister Ishaq Dar and Railways Minister Khwaja Saad Rafique among others.
NISAR CALLS ON PROTESTORS TO HONOUR THEIR WORD:
Talking to media, Chaudhry Nisar admitted slackness on part of federal and Punjab police in stopping the protesters short of D-Chowk.
He blamed the leadership of the protesters for not keeping their promises made with the Punjab government who had received written guarantees before allowing holding of Chehlum for Mumtaz Qadri.
“Though top local leaders kept their promise and did not take part in the protest, a breakaway faction consisting of leaders from outside Rawalpindi broke their promise and led a protest towards the federal capital,” he said.
NISAR SAYS ASK PUNJAB GOVT IF THEY MADE A MISTAKE:
Nisar stopped short of blaming the Punjab government for its failure to deal with the protestors in Rawalpindi, saying he could not comment on Punjab government’s actions.
“I would not comment on the affairs of the Punjab government. I am responsible for the federal administration. Our administration was convinced that the protestors would abide by the promises made on March 25 that they would disperse after dua. But a faction suddenly turned around, gave their charter of demands to Punjab government and moved towards Islamabad,” he said.
Nisar lauded the senior local leaders of the Barevli sect for standing by their commitment, saying some leaders didn’t fulfill their written agreements and brought a bad name to Islam.
“They gathered some 12,000 to 15,000 people and led them towards the federal capital. Though the capital police had arranged blockades on the Murree Road, the protesters took the longer route and moved towards Zero Point where only 200 to 250 policemen had been deployed,” he said.
He said a committee had been formed led by senior additional secretary to review the failure and shortcomings on part of the administration. He also claimed that necessary intelligence reports and other information had been shared with the Punjab government.
‘NO ONE WILL BE SPARED’:
Nisar said the protesters had ransacked government installations and injured police officials but that everyone would be held accountable.
“We have arrested many of them. The rest will also be held accountable. We have videos and other evidence. No one will be spared. I will take the nation into confidence tomorrow,” he said.
Nisar blamed the protesters for conspiring against the federal government.
“If we had provided them with dead bodies, they would have succeeded in dividing the nation. But we did not allow it to happen. We have called in reinforcements and put the protesters on notice,” he said.
Nisar said that now the federal government had decided to conduct an operation to clear the D Chowk but that the operation would be conducted in broad daylight on Wednesday.
“There are around ten senior clerics among the protesters and out of those one is on a wheelchair. We wanted to give them safe exit but they failed to avail it. I have passed written orders that no security official will have heavy or light weapons. But we will clear the D-Chowk,” he added.
He said it’s about time the government ensures that this nation which possesses nuclear weapons should not be considered so weak that any group can hold the federal capital hostage.
Asked about the talks, Nisar said that the federal government is not holding talks with the protesters. He said the protesters were making the children human shields but asserted that they would be removed from D-Chowk.
“We have a force of around 7,000 while the protesters number 1,400. I don’t think it would be very difficult,” Nisar said.