ISLAMABAD – Prime Minister Imran Khan and the federal cabinet Thursday approved a summary seeking a ban on the Tehreek-e-Labaik Pakistan (TLP) under the anti-terrorism law following violent protests in the country.
The summary was sent by the Ministry of Interior on the recommendation of the Punjab government as the province was centre of the protests erupted after TLP’s chief Saad Hussain Rizvi, who was demanding expulsion of French envoy over blasphemous caricatures, was detained by police on April 12.
The federal cabinet will issue a declaration of blacklisting the TLP as terrorist organisation.
The governments will now present the declaration of the ban in the Supreme Court of Pakistan which would later order the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) to denotify the party.
Once the TLP is denotified, all of its lawmakers will stand disqualified automatically.
On Wednesday, Federal Interior Minister Sheikh Rashid Ahmed said that the government has decided to ban TLP following protests sparked after the arrest of party’s chief Saad Hussain Rizvi.
Addressing a press conference, the minister said that that the religio-political party was being banned under anti-terrorism act after the Punjab government recommended it.
He said that the party had designed a plan to march on Islamabad to push its demands related to cutting ties with France over blasphemous caricatures.
Appreciating police and paramilitary troops for foiling the design, he said that the preemptive measures were taken to avoid any untoward situation.
He said that the government intended to present a draft with consensus in National Assembly but all efforts went in vein as the TLP wanted a resolution of its choice.
“We want a resolution that gives a message of Ishq-e-Rasool not extremism,” Rashid asserted.
The interior minister said that the protesters abducted policemen to press their demands, adding that two cops were killed while 340 were injured in clashes with violent protesters.
Warning of action against those promoting anarchy through social media platforms, he said that such elements should surrender themselves before the writ of the state.
“I never supported TLP and met its founder late Khadim Hussain Rizvi,” he added.
He said that the GT Road and motorways have been cleared for traffic.
The violent protests, which started on April 12 after TLP ameer was arrested by Lahore Police, continue in various cities including Lahore and Karachi.
On Tuesday, a number of protesters clashed with the police. Four people were killed during protests in Karachi’s Orangi and Korangi.
A cop Lahore was killed during the demonstration while hundreds of others were injured.
The same day, the federal cabinet approved the deployment of paramilitary troops to maintain law and order in Punjab cities.
TLP, Govt Agreement
In February this year, the TLP extended its deadline for the expulsion of French ambassador on the issue of blasphemy of Holy Prophet Muhammad (SAW) till April 20 after it signed a fresh agreement with the government.
The renewal comes days before the previous deadline was set to expire on February 17.
Prime Minister Imran Khan while talking to media said that a government committee held talks with representatives of the religious party leading to the pact.
He said that the TLP had extended the deadline, adding that the government will present the demands of the religious party in the Parliament by April 20 for approval.
The government has agreed to remove the names of TLP leaders from the Fourth Schedule.
In January, TLP newly-appointed chief Maulana Saad Rizvi, son of late Allama Khadim Hussain Rizvi had threatened to relaunch protest if the government fails to fulfill its promise of expelling the French ambassador by Feb 17.
Khadim Rizvi died on Nov 19, 2020, two days after his party inked an agreement with the government for ending its protest in Islamabad on the publications of blasphemous caricatures.
The agreement read the government would get a decision taken by the Parliament regarding expulsion of the French envoy within three months and it would not send its ambassador to France and release all the arrested workers of the TLP. The government will not register cases against the TLP leaders or workers.
The last two demands were implemented immediately but rest are subject to the decision of the parliament.