A day after Prime Minister Imran Khan warned people against taking the law into their hands, the government began negotiations with religious groups protesting the acquittal of Aasia Bibi.
“A government team led by Religious Affairs Minister Pir Noorul Haq Qadri is in Lahore to hold discussions with the religious groups,” an official told Media Channels on Thursday. “The team is trying to persuade them to leave legal matters to the courts.”
However, the Tehreek-e-Labbaik Pakistan, one of the protesting groups, has not shown flexibility. “We have called for a shutter-down strike on Friday,” a TLP spokesman said.
Punjab information minister Fayazul Hasan Chohan had also said that the government was talking to the protesters and he hopes the sit-in will end by Thursday night.
No minister or government official has publicly confirmed the government’s approach to the protesters.
In a press conference on Thursday evening, he warned protesters against taking the law into their own hands.
“The government shall ensure the writ of the state as expressed by the Prime Minister of Pakistan,” Chaudhry said. “We will not let Pakistan become a banana republic.”
In his address to the nation on Wednesday night, PM Khan had condemned the type of language being used by the protesters.
“They are calling judges wajib-ul–qatal and inciting people against army generals,” Khan said. “How can a country run like this? We are going through a difficult economic situation.”
“We won’t allow any destruction or violence. Don’t force the government to take harsh steps,” the PM warned.
Review petition against Asia Bibi’s acquittal filed in SC
A review petition against the acquittal of Asia Bibi has been filed in the Supreme Court.
Shireen Mazari, the human rights minister, said that “a protester has filed a review petition in SC and demanded Asia Bibi’s name be put on the ECL.”
“The government has nothing to do with both these moves.”
What is the government doing?
According to sources, the government is still working out how to deal with protests.
The government has realised that using force against is not a good option.
“We will not use force against the protesters,” Defence Minister Khattak said after a meeting with leaders of the opposition parties, including Bilawal Bhutto Zardari and Shehbaz Sharif on Thursday.
The protests will be held across Punjab and educational institutions will remain closed even if one of the groups calls off the protests.