LAHORE – Saad Hussain Rizvi, the chief of outlawed Tehreek-e-Labbaik Pakistan (TLP), was released on Tuesday from Kot Lakhpat jail around one week after he was arrested by Lahore police and booked under terrorism charges, local media reported.
The development comes after Federal Interior Minister Sheikh Rashid Ahmed, Minister for Religious Affairs and other government representatives held third round of talks with the TLP leaders yesterday night.
Following the talks, the interior minister in a short announcement said that the government will present a resolution in the National Assembly pertaining to expulsion of French envoy from Pakistan, a key demand which has been made by the banned party since November last year over blasphemous caricatures.
Saad Rizvi’s arrest and TLP Protests
Violent protests erupted across the country after police arrested the TLP ameer from Lahore on April 12, causing road blockades in various cities.
The government took action to disperse the protesters and clear the roads for traffic when clashes erupted between the police and workers of the banned party.
The clashes, according to the government, claimed four lives of police personnel besides leaving more than 800 injured.
The government managed to clear all the road blockades in various cities, but the situation at Lahore’s Yateen Khana Chowk, the headquarters of the TLP remained tense as the protesters were not ready to budge on their demand regarding expelling the French envoy.
Ban on TLP
Keeping in view the violence that continued for over a week, the government declared the TLP proscribed outfit under anti-terrorism act for challenging the write of the state.
Talks Restarted After Violent Clashes
On Monday, talks were restored between the government and the TLP leadership. Both sides held three rounds of talks in span of 24 hours, urging Saad Hussain Rizvi to ask his supporters to end the protest at Yateem Khana chowk where police on Sunday launched operation to clear the area but could not make it.
The details of the talks were not released by the government but it has agreed to table a resolution seeking expulsion of the French envoy in the National Assembly.
PM says expelling envoy not a solution of blasphemous acts
Prime Minister Imran Khan said on Monday sending back French envoy does not guarantee an end to Islamophobia in the Western world but he says such move will spark more blasphemy acts under the guise of freedom of speech.
Addressing the nation on ongoing protests by the proscribed Tehreek-e-Labbaik Pakistan (TLP), he stressed that heads of Muslim states need to be join hands to present a strong case in the West in order to permanently stop the blasphemy activities.
The premier said the objective of the government and the banned TLP to uphold sanctity of the Holy Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) is the same; however, there is a difference in approach.
He said expulsion of the French Ambassador, as demanded by the TLP, will not cause any damage to France, but rather put negative impact on Pakistan in many ways, particularly economy.
“We need to be united at this point when the country is on the road of development with increase in exports, large scale manufacturing and job opportunities, stability in rupee value and wealth creation,” he asserted.
He said that the government and the TLP had been holding talks for over two months to resolve this issue, adding that the talks were halted when they announced to march on Islamabad.