The federal government on Wednesday decided to ban the ultra right-wing Tehreek-e-Labbaik Pakistan (TLP) – whose supporters have rioted across the country for the past three days – under the country's anti-terrorism law.
"Today we have decided to ban TLP and this file will go to the cabinet for approval," said Interior Minister Sheikh Rashid as he addressed the media in Islamabad.
The announcement came hours after law enforcement officials cleared the major thoroughfares of the country after sporadic clashes with protesters reported in some towns and cities. The protest started after the call was given by TLP's leadership following the arrest of party chief Saad Hussain Rizvi.
وفاقی حکومت نے انسداد دہشتگردی ایکٹ کے تحت تحریک لبیک پر پابندی لگانے کا فیصلہ کرلیا۔— Sheikh Rashid Ahmed (@ShkhRasheed) April 14, 2021
پنجاب حکومت نے تنظیم پر پابندی لگانے کی سفارش کی ہے۔ہم پابندی سے متعلق سمری کابینہ کو بھیج رہے ہیں۔انسداد دہشتگردی کے ایکٹ 1997 کے رولز 11 بی کے تحت تحریک لبیک پر پابندی لگائی جائے گی۔ pic.twitter.com/OtlSWb9NPL
The interior minister added that the Punjab government has requested for the ban and the summary will be sent to the federal cabinet for approval. "The ban will be enforced on TLP under the Anti-Terrorism Act 1997 Rule 11."
“A single political party cannot lay claim to the matter of Namoos-e-Risalat as it is an issue close to the hearts of all 200 million people of this country,” Rashid said.
Regarding the resolution to be presented in the parliament, Rashid said a resolution that does not potray Pakistan as an extremist country will be presented.
He elaborated that the government was not prepared for the situation that arose over the past two days, however, the TLP "was very prepared".
Rashid said the protesters also disrupted the supply of oxygen to hospitals at a time when it is direly needed to support the treatment of Covid-19 patients.
The interior minister stated that we are politicians who have always indulged in politics, but never has killing, maiming or dragging police officers off motorcycles been a part of politics. He also lambasted the protestors for damaging public property.
“If there ever were any arrests warrants issued against me, or any other politician, we abide by them. We don’t ask our supporters to go on a rampage,” Rashid stated.
The TLP had been demanding the expulsion of the French ambassador over the publication of blasphemous caricatures. In November last year, the party staged a sit-in in Rawalpindi, which ended after an agreement with the government.
The party announced on November 17 that the government had accepted all its four demands. The TLP had released a copy of the handwritten agreement, carrying signatures of Qadri, then interior minister Ijaz Shah and the deputy commissioner, Islamabad.
The agreement said that the government would take a decision from the parliament regarding the expulsion of the French ambassador within three months, will not appoint its ambassador to France and release all the arrested workers of the TLP.
Funeral prayers of martyred police constable held in Lahore
Meanwhile, funeral prayers of police constable Muhammad Imran, who was martyred during the clashes with the TLP protesters, were offered in Lahore. Senior officials of Pakistan Army and Pakistan Rangers Punjab among police officials and civilians attended the funeral to pay homage to the departed soul.