Tehreek-e-Labbaik Pakistan (TLP) said on Wednesday that it march on Islamabad — a form of protest against Dutch Freedom Party leader Geert Wilders’ announcement to hold a competition of blasphemous caricatures — will commence as planned unless Netherlands’ ambassador to Pakistan is expelled from the country.
The demand was made during the first round of talks between TLP’s top leadership and the government in Lahore.
The blasphemous cartoon contest, scheduled for November, is being organised in the Netherlands by Wilders — a right-wing anti-Islam lawmaker who has been widely criticised for his activities.
Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte has distanced his government from the controversial contest, clarifying that: “Wilders is not a member of the [Dutch] government. The competition is not a government initiative.”
The religio-political party, announcing that they would proceed with their march on the capital, said that its workers would “stay on the streets until either the publication of blasphemous cartoons in the Netherlands is stopped or the govt immediately ends diplomatic ties with the Dutch”.
TLP protesters have started gathering at Data Darbar in Lahore, from where they had start marching towards Islamabad.
Federal Minister for Religious Affairs Noorul Haq Qadri and the Punjab Law Minister Raja Basharat represented the government in the meeting, while Muhammad Afzal Qadri, Allama Waheed Noor and Dr Amini from the TLP were also present.
Earlier, the religiopolitical party had urged the Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) government to not only “discontinue diplomatic and commercial relations with the Netherlands” but also “demand from other Islamic countries to do the same”. The TLP had also demanded that since the said competition’s judge is an American national, “therefore, strict measures should also be taken against the US”.
The TLP had attained notoriety after it effectively disrupted daily life in Islamabad for 20 days in November 2017.—INP