Reports of operation not true, govt to negotiate with protesters: Info minister | Pakistan Today

Reports of operation not true, govt to negotiate with protesters: Info minister

ISLAMABAD: Information and Broadcasting Minister Fawad Chaudhry on Friday cast aside reports circulating on social media of any operation by the government against the demonstrations taking place across the country.

His comments came as protests by religious parties continued countrywide for a third day against the acquittal of Aasiya Bibi, a Christian woman on death row for blasphemy allegations.

“The government does not wish to resort to the use of force. Federal Minister for Religious Affairs and Interfaith Harmony Noor-ul-Haq Qadri will continue to hold talks with the leadership of the demonstrators,” the minister shared.

“The situation across the country is under control. Negotiations are ongoing with the protesters. The government is a guarantor of the people’s lives and freedom. Reports of any operation against the demonstrators are false,” he tweeted in Urdu.

Chaudhry said that negotiations were ongoing between the government and the protesters and that the “State’s patience must not be mistaken for weakness”.

Referring to Pakistan army’s role in the war against terror, Fawad further stated, “Let’s not forget that the army cleared out terrorist havens in Pakistan. Those who want to oppose the writ of the State, let it be known, the State’s authority will not be challenged”.

In a Twitter post late Thursday night, he had stressed that the government did not wish to resort to the use of force against the protesters but would also not allow the writ of the state to be challenged.

“The law and order situation in the country is under control,” he had asserted.

“Upholding the Constitution and the rule of law completely is in the best public interest and we will fulfil this duty”.

“The Prime Minister is being briefed about the situation by the minute. Any attempt to sabotage the important visit to China will fail,” the minister had warned.

Earlier, speaking of the ongoing protests across the country, Chaudhry had said the entire country was “united on this matter”.

“We have decided that we will proceed with a strategy on this, and the opposition has ensured us of their complete cooperation.

“InshAllah, whatever strategy is formulated, we will proceed with it with the help of the opposition,” Chaudhry had said during a news conference on Thursday, sitting alongside federal minister Khusro Bakhtiar.

The information minister was referring to protesters who have taken to the streets and blocked roads in major cities of Pakistan since the Supreme Court on Wednesday acquitted Aasiya Bibi, a Christian woman convicted on blasphemy charges in 2010 and on death row for eight years.

Earlier, in a televised address to the nation on Wednesday evening, Prime Minister Imran Khan had supported what he called a “constitutional” decision by the top court and issued a stern warning to protesters against inciting citizens or challenging the writ of the state.

PM Khan, who is on his first official visit to China, met Chinese President Xi Jinping in Beijing on Friday.

Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi, Finance Minister Asad Umar, Planning Minister Khusro Bakhtiar, and Railways Minister Sheikh Rashid are accompanying the PM. Abdul Razak Dawood, the adviser to Khan on commerce, textiles, industries production and investment, and Balochistan Chief Minister Jam Kamal are also accompanying the high-level delegation.

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