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Opp parties assured govt full cooperation to deal with protesters: Fawad Chaudhry

02 November, 2018

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ISLAMABAD: The Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) government Thursday approached the opposition parties to take them into confidence on the strategy being formulated to deal with the elements holding protests in several cities across the country against acquittal of Asia Bibi by the Supreme Court in a high-profile blasphemy case.

“A government delegation, upon Prime Minister Imran Khan’s directives, met with Leader of Opposition Shehbaz Sharif and Bilawal Bhutto and took them into confidence regarding the future course of action,” Information Minister Fawad Chaudhry told reporters, adding that the opposition had assured the government of ‘full cooperation’ on its strategy to deal with the protesters.”We will move forward with the opposition’s support,” he said, adding that any steps taken by the government would be in accordance with the wishes of the parliament.”All state institutions and opposition parties are supporting the government’s stance on the issue,” he added.

Fawad said the government had also entered talks with protesters.”Negotiations are ongoing in Lahore and Rawalpindi and I will be able to say something about them later,” he said, but warned that any attempts to incite violence would not be allowed.”All those found involved in defying the writ of the state will have to pay the price,” he maintained.

Information Minister Fawad Chaudhry, Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi, Minister of State for Interior Sheheryar Afridi, Religious Affairs and Interfaith Harmony Minister Noorul Qadri and Minister for National Food Security and Research Sahibzada Mehboob Sultan are part of the committee formed by the prime minister to finalise a strategy on the future course of action, including dialogue with the protesters.

Later, speaking at a press conference following an emergency meeting of the federal cabinet, Fawad Chaudhry made it clear that the government intends to avoid use of force against the protesters, saying the State’s leniency should not be mistaken for weakness.”The State’s intent to avoid use of force to remove protesters must not be construed as a sign of weakness,” he said.”No one can be allowed to dictate the government,” he said. “Such elements must not pose a challenge to the government or clash with the state.”The minister advised the protesters to choose the path of the constitution and the law. “Those challenging the government shouldn’t be under any wrong impression. The kind of fight that Pakistan’s forces have fought at the borders … nobody should be under the impression that the state is weak. You cannot fight the state. You will not even know what happened to you,” the minister warned.

Fawad said the government, the prime minister and the ministers have immense love for Holy Prophet (Peace Be Upon Him), saying no one should have any doubt about that. “Institutions, army and judiciary work under the constitution,” he said. “Prime Minister Imran Khan has so much respect for the city of Medina Munawara that he landed bare foot at the airport and then went to the Masjid-e-Nabvi, offered prayers and prayed for the progress and prosperity of the country,” he added.

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