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Police arrest 8 protesters in Islamabad as govt decides to give negotiations another chance

Eight protesters were arrested by Islamabad police from Faizabad exchange on Tuesday following minor skirmishes between police and members of the protest led by Tehreek-i-Labaik Ya Rasool Allah Pakistan (TLY) and Sunni Tehreek (ST).

When a contingent of police and Frontier Corps (FC) personnel reached IGP Road and Islamabad expressway on Tuesday morning, the protesters began to prepare for a possible crackdown and resorted to pelting stones as the contingent arrived near Faizabad exchange.

The forces then arrested eight protesters — protesting a lack of punishment for those involved in making changes to the Khatm-i-Nabuwat declaration for electoral candidates — and lodged yet another case against the protesters I-9 police station, taking the tally of cases against them to over a dozen.

The arrests stirred rumours that the law enforcement agencies had begun an operation against the protesters.

Police sources informed Dawn.com that they have been ordered to close in on the protesters, not allow any food or other supplies to pass and arrest any individual leaving the protest.

Meanwhile a meeting chaired by the Interior Minister Ahsan Iqbal has reportedly decided to give negotiations another chance and reach out to the protesters via PML-N leader Raja Zafar-ul-Haq and State Minister for Religious Affairs and Inter-Faith Harmony Pir Aminul Hasnat.

Interior Ministry Spokesperson Yasir Shakeel, however, denied knowledge of any such meeting.

The protesters — led by religious leader Khadim Hussain Rizvi — are demanding the removal of Law Minister Zahid Hamid over the controversy related to the now reverted changes in Khatm-i-Nabuwat declaration, which the government insists were result of a clerical error.

Earlier in the day the Islamabad High Court also ordered to reverse in the Elections Act 2017 all amendments in sections pertaining to the Khatm-i-Nabuwwat oath.

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