Police Fired Tear Gas at Protesting Government Employees in Islamabad

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Today, in the afternoon, Islamabad police resorted to tear gas shelling near the Pakistan Secretariat as they tried to push back the workers, who are protesting for a pay rise.

tear gas

Several employees were arrested and those stuck in the Secretariat Block broke the door to escape.

The protesters are currently negotiating with the Islamabad deputy commissioner.

Protests are being held at several different points of the city, including Constitution Avenue, outside Secretariat Block and Cabinet Block.

The protesters had gathered around D chowk as well as China chowk, while Islamabad authorities had blocked the way towards the Parliament with containers. According to sources, demonstrators started bypassing the containers because of which the police once again had to resort to tear gas shelling to disperse them.

Because of the tear gas, some police and Rangers personnel also had to retract for a while.

The protestors have demanded that the containers be removed or else they would remove it themselves.

A protest was also held outside the National Press Club, which was joined by employees posted in Balochistan and Punjab. Later, the protesters started a march towards the Parliament House.

The government employees are protesting against the government over different issues.

DIG (operations) Afzal Ahmed Kausar and Senior Superintendent of Police Dr. Syed Mustafa Tanvir are personally observing the security arrangements, a statement by the police spokesperson said.

Islamabad Deputy Commissioner Hamza Shafqat was also at the scene and was overseeing the situation.

“The morale of the police is high and the situation is completely under control,” the statement said.

“Action will be taken against the ones who took law in their hands,” the statement read further.

Islamabad Police have temporarily halted the ongoing operation against protesting government employees in a bid to disperse the crowd which was moving toward the Parliament House located at the Constitution Avenue.

Government Response:

Addressing a press conference in Islamabad, Information Minister Shibli Faraz said that the prime minister was very concerned about the issues being faced by government employees and the situation in the Red Zone.

He stated that the premier has directed the ministries concerned to resolve the employees’ issues immediately. “He is very serious about this and wants the issues to be resolved,” he said, adding that a three-member government committee will address a press conference soon.

“I think that the protest will end today,” he said.

Addressing a press conference later in the day, Defence Minister Pervez Khattak, who is part of the committee holding talks with the protesters, said that the government wanted to give the employees a special allowance for the months before June.

A commission is also looking at the issue and will give a decision before the budget is announced and the problem will be solved, he added.

Sharing details of talks with the protesters, he said: “When talks started, we said we will give 24 per cent but they demanded much more. Calculations are being done and we are ready to talk.”

However, Khattak warned that the government has limits and it was ready to give increments according to what was suitable keeping in view the condition of the country and the treasury but if they want it on their own terms, it will be difficult. He also said that they cannot deal with provincial employees as that decision is on provincial governments.

Speaking after Khattak, Minister of State for Parliamentary Affairs Ali Mohammad Khan said: “A lot of things have been solved including upgradation and merger, only percentages are left. The committee is ready to give them relief for four months.”

Interior Minister Sheikh Rashid said, “The employees had the right to protest within the limits of the law. However, if political parties joined the protest and tried to give it a political color, it would result in loss for the government employees”.

He added that the government was ready to issue notification of 25% increase for employees from grade 16 to 22 whenever they say and would get it approved from the cabinet on Monday.

PPP and PMLN stance:

PPP chairperson Bilawal Bhutto Zardari has condemned the arrests and violence against the protesting government employees.

He claimed that while the PPP during its government had doubled government employees’ salaries, the PTI government instead of giving concessions to workers had caused a record increase in inflation and destroyed the economy.

PMLN vice-president Maryam Nawaz also asked the authorities to stop using tear gas shelling and sticks to disperse the protesters.

 

Why are the Govt Employees Protesting?

The federal government employees are demanding a raise in their salaries and had gathered today after their leader Rehman Bajwa and nine others were arrested overnight. They have been demanding a 40% increase in their salaries.

Following the arrests, the government workers in the federal capital had announced they would march towards the Parliament House from Pakistan Secretariat for their demands and the release of their leaders.

The protesters at one point had also encircled Federal Minister for Information Shibli Faraz.

At one point the protesting employees also closed the doors to the secretariat bringing the government machinery to a halt.

At least two dozen protesting employees were taken into custody under Section 16 of the Maintenance of Public Order Ordinance (MPO).

The protesters have received support from government employees over grade 17, who have also demanded an increase in their salaries.

The All Pakistan Clerks Association and government employees of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, Balochistan, Punjab and Sindh are also supporting the protest.

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