LAHORE: It was the fourth consecutive day on Tuesday when people clad in white shalwar kameez and green turbans gathered under the banner of Tehrik Labaik Ya Rasool Allah (TLYR) to protest on the city’s busiest thoroughfare of Mall Road. The demonstrators proceeded to block the streets for a few hours.
While the government seemed unable to offer negotiation terms, locals said authorities should at least stop them from blocking the busiest road which also happens to be the economic hub of the city.
The clerics blocked the street just in front of the Punjab Assembly where they have installed sound systems and arranged press conferences on a daily basis. The movement has been called the “jail bharo tehreek’ which literally translates into the “fill the jails movement”.
During a press conference, the patron-in-chief of TLYR Maulana Ashraf Asif Jalali said the government was unable to arrest the culprits behind involved in amending the Khatam-e-Nabuwat clause.
Talking to the media, he said that the protesters demanded the resignation of the culprits who enabled the amendment to Khatam-e-Nabuwat clauses. They also asked for compensation to the heirs of those slain during the Islamabad protests.
He said some of Rana Sanaullah’s statements were against the Constitution of Pakistan and the minimum punishment would be to send him behind bars immediately.
“We just want the government to reveal the names of the masterminds who hatched this conspiracy,” he said. “The resignation of Zahid Hamid alone will not be enough.”
Giving a reference to the report of Raja Zafarul Haq, Jalali asked “why the government was not interested in making the report public?” He added it would bring forward the names of the characters involved in this conspiracy.
He said that those who voted for the bill should be declared ineligible to partake in politics for life and the masterminds of the amendment must be sternly punished.
Maulana Jalali also accused Maulana Khadim Hussain Rizv of hijacking the movement a month ago and raised questions marks over the fatalities during the Islamabad protests.
Later, Rizvi casually distanced himself from further demands and protests announced by the patron-in-chief. “We have nothing to do with them (protesters in Lahore),” said Rizvi. At the same time, Maulana Jalali continued his sit-in for a week and it only ended after assurances from Pir Hameeduddin Siyalwi of Sargondha.
Just a week ago, Punjab Chief Minister Shehbaz Sharif met Hameedud Siyalwi in Sargodha and requested him to call off the protest call and the latter agreed.
Although Ashraf did not make any public declaration against Siylawi, the fact that he continued with the protest over the last four days clearly indicated that he was in disagreement.
On Saturday, Tehreek-e-Labaik Ya Rasool Allah (TLYR) kicked off its ‘fill the jails movement’ to register its protest against the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz government for not meeting the demand of Punjab Law Minister Rana Sanaullah’s resignation.
TLYR chief Dr Ashraf Asif Jilali, along with his workers, held a demonstration in front of the Punjab Assembly on Mall Road.
Speaking to the media, Dr Jilali said TLYR workers would continue their protest till the resignation of Sanaullah. “The Punjab government has deviated from its commitment and lost moral authority to govern. Government actions prove that rulers are also involved in this sin,” he maintained.
The declaration of oath, he underscored, was amended intentionally at the behest of the enemies of Islam. “It does not matter how powerful these people are; the government should make their names public and award them exemplary punishment. The rulers are not paying attention to public sentiments, but tomorrow they will have to face public reaction during the election campaign,” he added.
Dr Jilali said the TLYR workers would continue to protest and present themselves for arrest between 1pm and 4pm daily in front of the Punjab Assembly. He highlighted that TLYR Karachi Ameer Ghulam Murtaza Noorani, along with his workers, had also presented themselves for arrest in Karachi. A similar campaign will also be initiated in Islamabad from today (Sunday).
Published in The Express Tribune, January 31st, 2018.