RAWALPINDI: Interior Minister Sheikh Rashid Ahmad announced, early Monday, that after first successful round of talks with the Tehreek-i-Labbaik Pakistan (TLP), 11 policemen, taken hostage in Lahore, have been released.
“Dialogue has begun with the TLP. The initial round went well,” Rashid said in a video message on his social media. “11 policemen have been released and the protestors have gone into the Rehmatul Lil Alameen Mosque. The police have also taken a step back.”
He expressed hope that all the matters would be resolved with peace in the second round of talks. “Punjab government held successful negotiations. We hope that the second meeting will prove more fruitful and matters will be resolved with the TLP,” he added.
Earlier on Sunday, Lahore was nothing less than a battleground as Punjab police and TLP workers clashed brutally throughout the day.
Read More | Opposition, govt exchange barbs over TLP issue
As per available details, Punjab police said the violence began after “miscreants” mobbed a police station and abducted the DSP, to which they had to act in “self-defence”.
Punjab government spokesperson Firdous Ashiq Awan said TLP workers attacked Nawankot Police Station with arms and bottles of acid as Rangers and Police officers got trapped and DSP Nawankot was kidnapped.
A case, under the Anti-Terrorism Act, was also registered of the incident.
A spokesperson for the Lahore police, in a statement, said that Lahore CCPO Ghulam Mehmood Dogar participated in the operation himself to free the officials.
Officials said workers of TLP “brutally tortured” a DSP and took him along with four other officials, hostage.
Meanwhile, Mufti Muneeb-ur-Rehman, popular religious figure and former chairman of the Ruet-i-Hilal Committee, announced a countrywide strike against the government’s mishandling of the Lahore situation and asked that all businesses are to remain closed on Monday. JUI-F chief Maulana Fazlur Rehman, shortly after that, announced that he fully supports the Mufti’s call for a strike.