Islamabad sit-in: Govt names six-member clerics committee for talks

Islamabad sit-in: Govt names six-member clerics committee for talks

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ISLAMABAD: The government on Tuesday notified a six-member clerics committee, headed by Pir Haseenuddin Shah, to hold talks with the protesters staging a sit-in in Islamabad for the last 16 days. The committee only includes clerics from the Barelvi sect and has no representative of the government either.

According to the notification issued by the Ministry of Religious Affairs on Tuesday night, the committee consists of six members including Pir Haseenuddin Shah [head], Prof Dr Sajidur Rehman, Pir Ziaul Haq Shah, Maulana Abdul Sattar Saeedi, Syed Habibul Haq and Pir Ghulam Nizamuddin Shah Jami.

Ministry of Religious Affairs Director General Noorulsalam Shah will act as its secretary.

The committee will negotiate with representatives of the government and the Tahreek Labbaik Ya Rasool Allah, a newly formed party which demands that the government identify and punish the people who allegedly changed oath of elective representatives with regard to the Finality of the Prophethood.

The committee will submit its concrete proposals for a peaceful and amicable solution to the issue.

Talking to The Express Tribune, State Minister for Religious Affairs Pir Muhammad Amin ul Hasnat Shah said the panel had been nominated on the recommendations of Pir Haseenuddin.

“Pir Haseenuddin Shah believes that as the protest is held by people from Barelvi sect, clerics belonging to this sect should be made part of the committee,” he added.

He said earlier the government had notified a committee which also included names of the PML-N leaders, but Pir Haseenuddin objected to those names.

An official privy to a meeting held between the DG Ministry of Religious Affairs and Pir Haseenuddin said the head of the committee had refused to include special adviser to PM Irfan Siddiqui and other senior PML-N leaders in the committee.

“Pir Haseenuddin further proposed that the committee should be an authoritative decision-making body rather than an advisory body. He said only a committee with mandate can help resolve the crisis,” he said.

The official said clerics belonging to other sects who had attended a meeting convened on Monday in Punjab House, have not welcomed the decision of including only Barelvi clerics in the committee. “But the government accepted the proposal because it has no other option for resolving the issue,” he added.

Meanwhile, the ongoing protest sit-in at Islamabad Faizabad Interchange entered its sixteenth day on Tuesday with no hope of resolution of the crisis any times soon.

The government on Tuesday made considerable delay in issuing notification of the committee as it seemed too preoccupied in countering the oppositions’ bill that sought to stop a disqualified person to head a political party.

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