An anti-terrorism court in Lahore on Saturday granted post-arrest bail to at least 10 Tehreek-e-Labbaik Pakistan (TLP) leaders as well as several activists with the prosecution not opposing their release, a few days after the government signed an agreement with the religious outfit.
The leaders of the TLP’s Majlis-e-Shura and activists were arrested on different charges of creating unrest, blocking roads, damaging public properties, creating anarchy, inciting people against the government and pelting stones.
The leaders and activists of the religious outfit had taken to the streets for the release of their chief Saad Rizvi despite court orders and to pressure the government to fulfil its earlier “commitment”.
The TLP leaders, who were granted bail, included Maulana Farooqul Hassan, Ghulam Ghaus Baghdadi, Pir Zaheerul Hassan, Maulana Sharifuddin, Engineer Hafeezullah Alvi, Muhammad Badar Munir, Qari Ashraf, Muhammad Akbar, Muzaffar Hussain, Muhammad Umair, and Muzamal Hussain. Besides, several activists of the religious party were also granted bail.
The petitioners’ counsel told the court that the TLP leaders and activists had been illegally detained by utilising state power on "baseless charges".
The development came after the recent release of at least 2,000 TLP leader and activists detained by Punjab police under the Maintenance of Public Order (MPO) Ordinance.
On Thursday, the Punjab government acquired the consent of the requisite number of provincial cabinet members to lift the ban on the TLP, after the initial approval of Chief Minister Usman Buzdar to revoke the proscription of the religious outfit.
The steering committee met for the second time and key decisions were made including the release of TLP activists, who were not directly involved in violence.
It was also decided to withdraw the appeal filed by the Punjab government in the Supreme Court against the release of the TLP chief.
The government had earlier banned the TLP by declaring it a "militant organisation" for creating unrest in the country through a series of violent clashes with the law enforcement agencies.
On October 31, the government had announced that an agreement had been reached with the TLP after the latest round of dialogue between the two parties.
The announcement was made at a news conference in Islamabad where Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi, National Assembly Speaker Asad Qaiser, Minister of State for Parliamentary Affairs Ali Mohammad Khan, prominent cleric Mufti Muneebur Rehman as well as TLP members Mufti Ghulam Abbas Faizi and Mufti Mohammad Ameer were present.
Speaking on the occasion, Mufti Muneeb, the former chairman of the Ruet-e-Hilal Committee, had said a steering committee to implement the clauses of the agreement had been formed that would be headed by Minister Ali Mohammad Khan.
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Unofficial sources told The Express Tribune that the agreement included that the resolution on the France ambassador and embassy would be discussed in parliament. It also contained that the TLP chief would be released and the reference against him in the Wafaqi Nazarsani Board withdrawn.
The TLP officials, requesting not to be named, revealed that the sit-in in Wazirabad would at least continue till November 3, when a court decision was due on Saad’s release.
Besides, it was also decided that cases against the TLP chief registered on April 12 and two before that would be withdrawn. The government also agreed to remove his name from its blacklist.
Earlier, the federal government had invited the members of TLP's central committee to Islamabad after the first round of talks led by a delegation of clerics was said to have borne some success.
After multiple rounds of talks with the outfit failed, the government asked top clerics, belonging mostly to the Barelvi school of thought, to mediate between the TLP and the government.
The talks with the TLP through the clerics were successful, but they excused from becoming guarantors for either the TLP or the government.
TLP chief Saad had asked the 12-member negotiating committee to give the outfit a guarantee that the government would comply with the clauses of the agreement, whereas the government had asked the clerics to give assurance that the TLP would refrain from holding further protests.
Apparently the committee backed out saying the prime minister had strictly said that the matter of TLP detainees' release could only be decided by the court since the cases were pending before it.
However, Muneeb, who joined the dialogue on Saturday, agreed to become a guarantor for Rizvi.
Following Muneeb's willingness, the government called in the shura members of the TLP to finalise the agreement facilitated by the clerics.
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