Pak Rangers Draw 'Red Line' As Banned TLP Begins March

Islamabad: Pakistan's National Security Committee (NSC) met here on Friday and resolved not to tolerate "any further breach of law" by the proscribed Tehreek-i-Taliban Pakistan (TLP) -- which has moved forward with its long march to federal capital despite warnings from the government.

Prime Minister Imran Khan, who presided over the meeting, told the participants that "no group or entity will be allowed to cause public disruption or use violence to pressure the government."

According to the statement, the participants of the meeting that included top brass of military conveyed that the state's restraint should not be seen as "a sign of weakness".

Participants criticised the "TLP's misuse of religion and the issue of Namoos-i-Risalat for political gains" saying that the move was "misleading the common man" and creating internal discord within society, according to the statement.

"The TLP's violence has ended up furthering the agenda of sectarian elements and external enemies of the state," the statement said, adding that "no such violent agitation had taken place in any other Muslim country" despite over 1.5 billion Muslims across the world having immense regard and respect for Prophet Muhammad (PBUH).

"The committee unanimously resolved to guard its sovereignty from all internal and external threats and not allow [the] TLP to challenge the writ of the state in any way.

Meanwhile radical TLP resumed its march from Gujranwala on Friday, with thousands of activists travelling in cars, buses and on foot continuing their journey towards Islamabad, despite Interior Minister Sheikh Rashid Ahmed's Thursday night warning to the group to call off its march or face "consequences".

Dawn reported that the TLP-police encounter was expected at security points that had been established at Chenab and Jhelum rivers, the only route for the march to reach Islamabad.

This time, Dawn said, the paramilitary Rangers would lead the command, while the Punjab Police would assist them as per the standard guidelines issued since the government deployed Rangers in the province under a notification issued on Wednesday.

The security personnel also have armoured vehicles with them and are equipped with riot gear, according to police sources.

Rangers marked a 'red line', and put up a notice nearby warning the protesters not to breach the line or face consequences.

"Attention: Beyond this line, the responsibility for law and order lies with Pakistan Rangers (Punjab), who have been given the authority to open fire at the miscreants. All the people are strictly warned to return to their homes," the banner installed by the paramilitary force reads.

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