Interior Minister Ahsan Iqbal sets Nov 23 as deadline to end Islamabad sit-in

  • Court issued show-cause notices for contempt of court to the interior secretary, chief commissioner and Islamabad inspector general

ISLAMABAD – Interior Minister Ahsan Iqbal announced an extension in the deadline granted by the Islamabad High Court (IHC) for the eviction of a sit-in of religious parties from Islamabad’s Faizabad Interchange.

After appearing before the Islamabad High Court on Monday, Iqbal announced that the religious groups have been granted two days (till Nov 23) to call off the sit-in that had paralysed the capital city from last 15 days.

The minister claimed that there were conspirers who wanted a ‘Model Town or Lal Masjid’ like episode once again, referring to government action against political workers in Lahore in 2014 and seminary students in Islamabad in 2007, respectively.

‘The impression that we compromised on Khatam-e-Nabbuwat is not correct. I am hopeful that we will resolve the issue in 24-48 hours,’ he added.

Ahsan Iqbal enters Justice Siddiqui’s courtroom

Earlier, before the court, the minister took sole responsibility for the failure to end the sit-in and added that he wanted to resolve the matter peacefully seeking more time from the court for resolution of the dispute.

Upon hearing the interior minister’s request, Justice Siddiqui adjourned the hearing until Thursday.

The court also issued show-cause notices for contempt of court to the interior secretary, chief commissioner and Islamabad inspector general.

The bigwigs were directed to appear before the court by Justice Shaukat Siddiqui who expressed his reservations saying that the government did not implement his order despite his clear-cut verdict to administration to end the sit-in.

The judge remarked that he would issue a ‘contempt of court’ order adding that it was the failure of local administration.

Earlier, he asked the officials present in court, the Islamabad inspector general, chief commissioner and deputy commissioner, to provide an explanation for the lack of action against protesters.

The dragging on of the protest “is the result of the administration’s complicity and incompetence”, Justice Siddiqui said.

The Deputy Attorney General argued before the bench that the political leadership was engaged in negotiations with the protesters.

‘Some aspects of the ongoing situation cannot be revealed in the open court’ said the law official.

Meanwhile, the public in the twin cities continued to face hardships as the protest sit-in at Faizabad Interchange entered its fifteenth day today.

The Islamabad High Court had on Thursday directed religious groups to call off the sit-in in the capital, staged as a protest against the Election Bill 2017.

Hearing a petition filed by Maulana Allah Wasaya against the manipulation of Khatam e Nabuuwat clause (which was later amended) of Electoral Reforms Bill 2017, Justice Shaukat Aziz Siddiqui issued directives for calling off the strike.

Moreover, on Friday, the same court ordered the capital administration to take action against the religious groups and clear the Faizabad Interchange.

Citing the difficulties faced by citizens due to blockage of the major artery, the court not only permitted the capital administration to enlist the support of Rangers or Frontier Constabulary but also directed to clear the thoroughfare by  Saturday.