‘Firefighting, not a cure’ was what Information Minister Fawad Chaudhry termed the government’s agreement with the Tehreek-e-Labbaik Pakistan (TLP) to end the three-day-long countrywide protests.

The Supreme Court’s verdict in the case of Asia Bibi, a Christian woman on death row since 2010 when she was convicted on blasphemy charges, had angered TLP and the party leadership called for protests across the country. Several cities were paralysed as the protests caused severe road blockages in major cities and resulting in severe mobility issues for citizens.

Even though Prime Minister Imran Khan warned the protesters against challenging the state earlier in the week, the Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) government eventually had to reach a five-point agreement with TLP on Friday night to end the protests. Fawad, in an interview with the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) on Saturday, said that using force against protesters was not the preferred method for the government to deal with the demonstrations.

“We had two options: either to use force, and when you use force people can be killed. That is not something a state should do. We tried negotiations and in that, you take something and you leave something,” he said. But Chaudhry defended his government against allegations that it was bowing down to extremists. He said that his government was committed to coming up with a permanent solution to tackle violent protests in the country.

“We need to act against extremism. The government needs to figure out a permanent solution for these ‘violent protesters’. Right now, the agreement is not a cure, but merely firefighting. The cure is the real thing and our government is committed to finding the cure.” He said that the courts would decide whether or not to put Asia Bibi on the Exit Control List (ECL). He said the PTI government would ‘take all steps necessary’ to ensure her safety in Pakistan.