23rd Nov new deadline to end sit-in: Ahsan Iqbal

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ISLAMABAD: Interior Minister Ahsan Iqbal today announced an extension granted by the Islamabad High Court (IHC) in the deadline for the eviction of a religious parties’ sit-in from Islamabad’s Faizabad Interchange.
Daily life in the capital has been disrupted for nearly two weeks by protesters belonging to religious parties, including the Tehreek-i-Khatm-i-Nabuwwat, Tehreek-i-Labaik Ya Rasool Allah (TLY) and the Sunni Tehreek Pakistan (ST), calling for the sacking of Law Minister Zahid Hamid and strict action against those behind the amendment to the Khatm-i-Nabuwwat oath which had earlier been deemed a ‘clerical error’ and subsequently rectified.
The protesters had occupied the Faizabad Bridge which connects Rawalpindi and Islamabad through the Islamabad Expressway and Murree Road, both of which are the busiest roads in the twin cities.
The deadline for ending the sit-in is now Nov 23, Iqbal said, addressing a press conference after a court hearing on the matter today. “We will implement the court’s order,” Iqbal asserted, referring to an IHC order to the capital administration on Friday to evict the protesters by Saturday using “any means necessary”, with the help of the Frontier Constabulary and Rangers, if needed.
The deputy commissioner had earlier told the court the number of protesters is around 2,000, and they are in possession of some 10-12 weapons. “The Islamabad administration did not conduct an operation against the protesters on my orders, because I do not wish for any unrest. I asked for an extension in the deadline so that we can find a solution,” he added.
“We are in talks with religious leaders and I believe we will convince the protesters to end their sit-in,” he said. “I am sure that in 24 hours or so, we will find a solution; there will be a breakthrough.”
He added that the IHC had earlier observed that there is a designated area for people to register their protests in the capital the Democracy and Speech Corner. The IHC in a hearing last week had said that any citizen who wishes to exercise their right to freedom of speech must not inconvenience other citizens.
“They the court have given a judgment on this, and we have decided that in the future, no one will be allowed to hold a sit-in. The administration will be given strict orders not to allow a situation like this to develop in the future,” he added. -Agencies

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