TLP epitome of obscurantist bigotry and fanaticism
PAKISTAN was once again held hostage by the dark and sinister forces of religious fanaticism and bigotry when the entire country was swamped by mobs of illiterate mullah’s hell bent on creating chaos, looting, burning, pillaging and killing in the name of Ishq-i-Rasul.
Three police men were brutally slaughtered, hundreds injured and property worth million destroyed.
The government finally decided to check this hydra headed religious monster and the Interior Minister announced that the government has decided to ban this party under the Anti-Terrorism Act 1997.
This delayed action by the government may again prove counterproductive or too little too late. Such cosmetic actions in the past are proof of the folly of such acts. Most of the religious terror groups banned in the past are still very much active and functional.
The Lashkar-i-Taiba was banned and it rebounded with a new name called Jamat-ud-dawa The Sipah-i-Sahaba returned with a vengeance under another guise and their leaders and supporters are still doing their dirty work.
According to the latest news the TLP militants have taken six security personnel hostage after a series of violent clashes. The group has given the deadline of April 20th for expelling the French Ambassador. Six have been killed and hundreds wounded so far.
There is a complete news blackout imposed by PEMRA on the ongoing dharna and agitation by the TLP and all roads leading to the headquarters of the TLP have been blocked.
Imran Khan said the group had been banned because “It challenged the writ of the State and used violence and attacked public and law enforcers” and France advised its citizens to leave Pakistan for their safety.
Pakistan’s honeymoon with the religious political parties goes back to the very beginning of our independence.
Various governments — civilian and military — have resorted to the use of these fanatical entities as an instrument of state policy. Religion has been used to create armed groups of religious fanatics and launched against enemies across the border.
Some of these non-state actors armed, trained, financed ad nurtured by the state have grown into extremely powerful groups armed to the teeth and at times ready to impose their writ on the state at the point of a gun.
The TLP known for its great street power and country-wide massive following was founded by the fire brand Mullah Khadim Hussein Rizvi on 1st August 2015 who rose to fame after the hanging of Mumtaz Qadri and his demand that Sharia Law be established in Pakistan and most members belong to the Barelvi school of Islamic thought.
The first major success of the TLP was witnessed in October 2017 when the language was changed in the 2017 elections bill.
Under pressure from the religious fanatics the Federal Government had to submit to their demands and asked the Federal Law Minister Zahid Hamid to resign.
This was a classic case of legislation being done under duress and on the dictates of obscurantist forces.
The party gained more strength by stopping traffic at the Faizabad interchange for three weeks and very effectively paralyzed life completely in the twin cities. Six innocent citizens lost their lives and over two hundred were injured.
The protest was finally called off when the govt capitulated and their demands were accepted in agreement signed by the government officials and leaders of the TLP.
Following the acquittal of Asia Bibi by the Supreme Court the TLP held protests across the country and had the audacity to call for the death of three Supreme Court judges involved in the case and the top leaders of TLP declared categorically “The Chief Justice and two others deserve to be killed— Either their security guards, their drivers or their chefs should kill them” This was a blatant inducement to murder which is a crime in any country and yet the government and even the courts were helpless to take any punitive actions.
The Commission of inquiry formed to probe the Dharna case was presided over by Justice Qazi Faez Isa and he came up with some disturbing and startling facts about the case.
The role of government agencies was brought out and subsequently Faez Isa was taken to task by a NAB reference accusing him of money laundering and tax evasion, the case is still on and Faez still under cloud.
This clearly shows the powerful grip reach and influence of the TLP in the government. It is no secret that the present regime of Imran Khan has a very soft corner for some militant religious organizations.
The government will gladly bend backwards to appease their favourites. Cosmetic and superficial measures will not eradicate the menace of fanaticism.
There has to be complete separation of state and religion and the use of religiously motivated proxies for political means can only result in chaos disaster and carnage.
—The writer is Professor of History, based in Islamabad.