Govt, Marchers finally make peace

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– Rahbar Committee has agreed not to go to Red Zone

By Shakeel Ahmed

ISLAMABAD: The federal government and the opposition’s Rahbar Committee held successful negotiations, on Saturday. Defence Minister Pervaiz Khattak, who is leading the government delegation that is negotiating terms with the Rahbar Committee, will hold an important press conference at 9:00 pm.
Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam-Fazl (JUI-F) chief Maulana Fazlur Rehman has threatened the government with a long march that will begin on October 27 and culminate in the federal capital on October 31.
According to sources, the two parties have agreed on the third venue for the protest. Sources claimed that the venue that has been decided by both the government and the Rahbar Committee is the Peshawar Mor.
Sources claimed that the government and opposition have agreed that a rally will be held at the Peshawar Mor.
Talks between the Rahbar Committee and the government reached a stalemate on Friday. A meeting between the Rehbar Committee and the government’s negotiating team held on Friday ended without yielding any result as deadlock persisted on deciding the venue of culmination of the Azadi March.
Inside sources said the government’s negotiating team rejected the demand of the Rehbar Committee to allow gathering of their workers at D-Chowk in Islamabad.
The government team stuck to the stand that the opposition parties would be allowed to hold a public meeting at the Parade Ground.
On Friday, JUI-F chief Fazlur Rehman had said that the Azadi March would go ahead and refused to accept any deals with the government. He made the comments in Larkana while negotiations were ongoing with the government.
The two sides, after holding two rounds of talks which concluded late Friday night, without giving any time-frame, decided to continue the talks process.
The government team, while insisting on the Parade Ground as venue of the Azadi March, referred to a past decision of the Islamabad High Court (IHC) in this regard.

The two sides took a break for nearly two hours after the first round of talks, during which Defence Minister Pervaiz Khattak talked to the prime minister via telephone.
Sources said that PM Imran maintained that the government would establish its writ and the Azadi March would not be allowed to reach D-Chowk in Islamabad.
The prime minister said the government had tried its best to reach an agreement with the opposition. “We gave the option of Parade Ground in the light of decision of the high court,” the premier said.
“We have not been able to reach any conclusion but will continue to hold talks,” JUI-F leader Muhammad Akram Khan Durrani said after the meeting.
Meanwhile, Defence Minister Pervaiz Khattak said on Saturday that an agreement had been reached between the government and Rahbar Committee according to which participants of the march will not enter D-Chowk.
Khattak was conducting a press conference with members of the committee and the government delegation by his side. He said that both sides had reached an understanding.
“Akram Durrani has assured me that participants of the march will not enter the Red Zone,” he said. “Whether it be a dharna or a jalsa, it should be peaceful.”
Khattak said that the Rahbar Committee had not asked for the prime minister’s resignation neither had it put forth the demand for elections.
“We hope the JUI-F will conduct its protest within the limitations of the constitution,” he said. “If that happens, then the government will not block any roads or create any hurdles for the march.”
Khattak said that according to the agreement, the JUI-F will hold its jalsa in at the Peshawar Mor ground. He refuted allegations that a deal had been reached between the government and the Rahbar Committee.
“No deal has taken place. We are democratic people. This is not like the NRO. That happens when someone does something bad,” he said.
On Friday, JUI-F chief Fazlur Rehman had said that the Azadi March would go ahead and refused to accept any deals with the government. He made the comments in Larkana while negotiations were ongoing with the government.
The two sides, after holding two rounds of talks which concluded late Friday night, without giving any time-frame, decided to continue the talks process.
The government team, while insisting on the Parade Ground as venue of the Azadi March, referred to a past decision of the Islamabad High Court (IHC) in this regard.
The two sides took a break for nearly two hours after the first round of talks, during which Defence Minister Pervaiz Khattak talked to the prime minister via telephone.
Sources said that PM Imran maintained that the government would establish its writ and the Azadi March would not be allowed to reach D-Chowk in Islamabad.
The prime minister said the government had tried its best to reach an agreement with the opposition. “We gave the option of Parade Ground in the light of decision of the high court,” the premier said.
“We have not been able to reach any conclusion but will continue to hold talks,” JUI-F leader Muhammad Akram Khan Durrani said after the meeting.