Only ‘negotiated’ with army officials, not govt representatives: TLY chief Khadim Rizvi

Tehreek-i-Labaik Ya Rasool Allah (TLYR) chief Khadim Hussain Rizvi on Tuesday revealed that it was the army which ensured the government met the protesters’ terms.

“We told them [the government] that we cannot talk to you,” Rizvi told Samaa TV on Tuesday. “Then the army came in the middle and our companions met with army and ISI [Inter-Services Intelligence] bigwigs, generals etc.”

“They told us they will get all of our demands accepted,” Rizvi said in a startling revelation that shed light on why the government seemed to have capitulated so completely to the protesters.

Rizvi said that his team never met the interior minister — whose signatures were present on the agreement — and it “must have been” the army leadership which got Iqbal to sign the document.

Meanwhile, Interior Minister Ahsan Iqbal on Tuesday said that the agreement that ended the Faizabad sit-in had not been desirable, but the government had been left with little choice in the matter.

“Document of finishing dharna was not desirable but there was little choice because if [the] situation had persisted [for] another 24 hrs there would be riots,” Iqbal said in a tweet on Tuesday.

After the weeks-long protest, which virtually paralysed the capital and led to several people losing their lives, the government had finally bent its knee to the protesters on Monday after Zahid Hamid resigned from his post as federal law minister.

The minister’s resignation came in the aftermath of Saturday’s bot­ched operation against protesters at Faizabad and ‘successful negotiations’ with leaders of the demonstration late Sunday night, official sources and state broadcaster PTV said.

Six people were killed while hundreds were injured during the operation. The terms of the agreement included blanket immunity for all those arrested during the crackdown on the agitating protesters.

The agreement between the government and the protesters to end the sit-in has subsequently faced much criticism.

Most prominently, Islamabad High Court Justice Shaukat Aziz Siddiqui had on Monday lashed out at the government as well as the army for mediating the agreement.

“The army chief, instead of following the orders of the chief executive, became a mediator,” Justice Siddiqui had pointed out as he sharply reprimanded the armed forces for straying out of their constitutional role.

“Who is the army to adopt a mediator’s role?” inquired the judge. “Where does the law assign this role to a major general?”