PM’s address: Prime Minister Imran Khan has addressed the nation to discuss last week’s events. He proclaimed that while his government and the Tehreek-i-Labbaik Pakistan (TLP) are aligned in their goal of countering blasphemous activity, their methods differ.
He assured the party’s workers that he understood their call, but demonstrated– with historical accounts– how violence is not the answer. “Now, I ask, will sending the French ambassador back guarantee that there will be no more blasphemy?”, he said, explaining that the loss will only be Pakistan’s if this occurs, as they’d have to sever ties with the European Union.
He concluded the address by recalling his comments from earlier in the day regarding his international movement with other Muslim Head of States to counter the issue of Islamophobia through proper, diplomatic channels. Moreover, throughout his address, he called for peace and unity.
Negotiations: In the early hours of Monday, Interior Minister Sheikh Rashid took to a video message to announce that the Tehreek-i-Labbaik Pakistan (TLP) had released its hostages following a successful round of negotiation.
What happened: On Sunday, TLP workers kidnapped 11 policemen after attacking the Nawankot Police Station. Videos of them under duress were released by the party and circulated on social media. Today, these hostages were let go. ‘The protestors have released the 11 policemen they had taken hostage and retreated into the Rehmatul Lil Alameen Mosque’, Sheikh Rashid explained, adding that the police force has been ordered to withdraw as well. The minister also expressed hope, stating that the second round of negotiations would occur after sehri. However, there have been no official updates regarding the success of this dialogue.
While the video message did not contain further details, sources close to the issue revealed that a government team had met TLP workers near the Babu Sabu Interchange, and were able to transact the release of the policemen, who were severely injured.
PM’s comments: Later in the day, Prime Minister Imran Khan, while speaking at the groundbreaking ceremony for the Margalla Highway in Islamabad, also discussed the violence. He reiterated that the entire country shares in the sentiment that the TLP feels regarding the Prophet (Peace be Upon Him), but that violence was not the answer. “Violent protests in Pakistan will make no difference to the western country where blasphemous acts occur”, he reiterated, while drawing attention to the campaign he is spearheading in collaboration with other Muslim Head of States to bring the issue of Islamophobia to forums such as the United Nations and the Council of the European Union. Additionally, he expressed regret that Islamist political parties ‘misuse’ Islam for their agendas. Federal Information Minister Fawad Chaudary has indicated that a more detailed address should be expected in the evening.
The Strike: These developments come following a week riddled with violent riots throughout the nation, which culminated in a nationwide strike that the party had announced yesterday, with support from prominent individuals such Mufti Muneeb-ur-Rehman and Maulana Fazal-ur-Rehman, among others.