Faizabad sit-in not orchestrated by ISI, Defence Ministry tells IHC

  • Pakistanis faced one of the worst ever street show due to massive protests by Tehreek-i-Labbaik Pakistan (TLP) last November.

ISLAMABAD – A report submitted by Ministry of Defence in the Islamabad High Court (IHC) has rejected the notion that Pakistan’s premiere spy agency – Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) – was involved in orchestrating and sustaining the Faizabad protest.

The ministry made public the report regarding the sit-in and subsequent operation last year against Tehreek-e-Labbaik (TLYR) protesters at Faizabad interchange that aggravated the controversy surrounding amendments to the Election Act which triggered the protests.

The report suggests that, in fact, ISI made every effort to support the government in a peaceful resolution of the issue.

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The report details that the fake stories about the intelligence agency were created and spread by social media users, and were given credence by ‘those in influential positions’ who made irresponsible remarks regarding these conspiracy theories.

However, the report does not clarify the ambiguity created by this carefully worded conclusion, and no names are provided to support the claim.

According to the findings of the defence ministry, the operation against the participants of the sit-in was a result of a lack of coordination between members of Rawalpindi and Islamabad police, who did not have a unified chain of command and were ‘poorly equipped’ to deal with rioters.

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In another damning indictment, the report claimed that the ‘rhetoric of political leadership’ was responsible for the controversy surrounding amendments to the Election Act.

The reports adds that the federal government and the TYLR did not formally engage with each other, although both parties wanted to probe and act against those who were responsible for changes to the Election Act.

The Ministry of Defence highlighted that the fallout of the failed operation, wherein all major cities and vital communication arteries were blocked and government officials were being attacked, played a major role in determining the terms of the eventual agreement between the protestors and the state.

The report also recommended that the court summon the leaders of the sit-in to explain the manner in which they acted and spoke during the whole episode.

Pakistanis faced one of the worst ever situation on roads due to massive protests by Tehreek-i-Labbaik Pakistan (TLP), a religio-political party which gained prominence with a violent Faizabad sit-in on November 6, last year.

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Khadim Hussain Rizvi, a Lahore-based cleric was leading the protest which spilled over to other parts of the country after a “strong silence” from the government.

The Faizabad agreement was reached between the federal government and religious parties following violent protests against an amendment in the Khatm-e-Nabuwwat clause – explained by the government as a ‘clerical’ error.

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The demonstration ended after the ISI brokered a negotiation between the government and protesters, which placed the issue to rest for the time being.

Maj Gen Faiz Hameed of the ISI had signed the agreement in the capacity of ‘guarantor’.