PaK Govt reconciles with traders

Greater Kashmir

Muzaffarabad,Mar 22: The government in Pakistan administered Kashmir (PaK) on Friday reached a reconciliation deal with the protesting traders, after committing “appropriate and swift” action on most of their demands that fell within its jurisdiction.
 The compromise was declared at a press conference by Prime Minister Chaudhry Abdul Majeed in the presence of representatives of traders, led by Shaukat Nawaz Mir, chairman Markazi Anjuman e Taajran Muzaffarabad.
 On Thursday, the PaK capital underwent a crippling strike by the traders against unrelenting loadshedding and other issues confronting the town. Dozens of people, including police personnel, were injured in violent clashes during the strike.
 Around 14 protestors were arrested by the police who were reportedly contemplating booking many others as well.
 However, Prime Minister Majeed told reporters that “as a goodwill gesture” the government had decided to unconditionally release the detainees.
 “Ours is a sensitive area and we must be very careful in our conduct, lest it might not be negatively exploited by anyone,” he said, while terming the yesterday’s happenings as “unfortunate.”
 Majeed said he had himself been in the opposition for most of the time and he knew that how a mountain would be made out of a molehill.
 “We must not be impatient and realize that every government has some limitations and parameters within which it has to deal with the issues,” he said, in an apparent reference to PaK government’s powerlessness in some areas.
 The prime minister announced on the occasion that he would chair a meeting of senior government officials on early Saturday to take ‘swift and appropriate action’ on demands, resolution of which was within the competence of his government.
 Earlier, Majeed asked minister for school education Mian Abdul Waheed to brief the media on assurances the government had given to the traders for resolution of most of their demands.
 The minister was part of an official team that had been negotiating with the traders ever since they had announced their protest programme.
 When questioned why the ministerial team did not reach out the traders on Thursday when their procession reached near Sathra, Waheed said that when they were about to leave for the talks they learnt that violence had begun.
 He claimed that the Prime Minister had strictly directed the administration and police to avoid use of force till last moment.
 “However, some vested interests sabotaged the trader’s rally as they had joined it with an agenda to create law and order problem,” he said, without naming anyone.
 “It’s difficult to control a mob or a flood.”
 Waheed maintained that resolution of most of the issues raised by the traders was already in the pipeline but it could not be propagated “due to a communication gap.”
 Regarding the issue of loadshedding, he said though it was outside the purview of the PaK government yet the prime minister had spoken to chairman Wapda for scheduled loadshedding.
 Similarly, on the issue of alleged shifting of Rs 55 billion reconstruction funds (by the PPP government), he said debate on it would be waste of time because neither the PaK government was trustee of that amount nor it was within its jurisdiction.