Diplomats, analysts, politicians, religious scholars say a group of people can’t dictate Govt on foreign policy

APP DigitalThe government on Thursday issued a notification to ban the Tehreek e Labaik Pakistan (TLP) party, under the Anti Terrorism Act 1997 and declared it a proscribed organisation.

A notification issued by the Ministry of Interior said the decision has been taken as the “Federal Government has reasonable grounds to believe that Tehreek Labbaik Pakistan is engaged in terrorism, [has] acted in a manner prejudicial to the peace and security of the country, involved in creating anarchy in the country by intimidating the public.”

The organisation has been banned under section 11B (1) of the Anti-Terrorism Act, 1997 (XXVII of 1997), the notification said.

The notification pointed that the TLP was engaged in acts that “caused grievous bodily harm, hurt and death to the personnel of Law Enforcement Agencies and innocent bystanders.”

The TLP also attacked civilians and officials, created wide-scale hurdles, threatened, abused and promoted hatred, vandalized and ransacked public and government properties including vehicles and caused arson.

The religo-political party has also been held responsible for blocking essential health supplies to hospitals, “and has used, threatened, coerced, intimidated, and overawed the government, the public and created a sense of fear and insecurity in the society and the public at large.”

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Earlier Interior Minister Sheikh Rashid Ahmed said after the notification for the banning of the Tehreek e Labaik Pakistan – TLP another summary for the dissolution of the party will be submitted to the Supreme Court of Pakistan. The TLP contested the 2018 general election and has three seats in the Sindh assembly. It got 2,234,316 votes in the National Assembly.

Addressing a press conference along with Minister for Religious Affairs Noor ul Haq Qadri, the Interior Minister said besides the two martyred police constables a total of 580 other personnel received injuries in the violent clashes and 20 vehicles were either burnt or severely damaged by the mob.

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He said the TLP that surfaced in 2016 has charged onto the federal capital three times, and it had full preparations for the fourth assault. He said the party while holding talks with the government had directed its workers to come prepared for April 20. Without giving further details, he said the government had information that the TLP had “very dangerous designs” this time.

Updated List of Proscribed Organisations in Pakistan
Updated List of Proscribed Organisations in Pakistan

He said Prime Minister Imran Khan has especially lauded the law enforcement agencies personnel for valiantly standing up to the violent mobs. He said no leniency would be tolerated and all those involved in creating the law and order situation would be dealt with. He said he would be visiting the families of the martyred police constables and meet the injured ones soon.

Noor ul Qadri said the issue of Namoos e Risalat was of extreme importance for every Muslim, however pointed that no one can be allowed to play politics on such a sensitive matter and to create law and order on any such pretext. He said he had been interacting with the party for the past two years, but the TLP wanted to do things in its own way.

He said the government desired that the TLP leaders should be part of the mainstream politics and play their part in national development, however regretfully they opted for a path of confrontation, which cannot be permitted.

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Qadri said the government never backtracked from its commitment over presenting the matter before the National Assembly, by choosing wording so as not to bring about any international crisis.

The TLP has asked its workers to start its march towards Islamabad from the grave of Allama Khadim Hussain Rizvi. The government, he said even offered TLP to enter negotiations with the parliamentary committee but its leadership did not agree and were adamant that their demands be met.

“As an elected democratic government, we made efforts, held negotiations to convince them, but to no avail.”

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To a question about the arrest of Saad Rizvi he said political, religious and business personalities get arrested but the way the TLP reacted can neither be called moral or religious.

“Pakistan stands at the forefront for the protection of Namoos-i-Risalat and would continue to remain firm in its stance.”

Sheikh Rashid when asked about travel advisory issued for the French nationals said “all French citizens are safe and there is no threat.”

The ban comes after three days of violent clashes between the protesters and police following the arrest of Saad Hussain Rizvi in Lahore. The TLP had given a deadline to the government for April 20 to expel the French ambassador from Pakistan over the blasphemous caricatures published in France.

Pakistan had strongly condemned the act and Prime Minister Imran Khan was on record to raise the issue at several international fora. In his address at the UN General assembly, he strongly raised the issue of blasphemy and Islamophobia.

Ulema from different schools of thought also condemned the violence across the country and said Islam strongly forbade such acts of violence and lawlessness as they lead to chaos in the society. They termed such acts not only immoral but also un Islamic and against the teachings of Holy Prophet Muhammad (Peace be upon Him).

The acts of violence shared by people on social media from across the country sparked a strong reaction from the people who rejected the politics of chaos and said the TLP workers and leaders must refrain from using the name of the Holy Prophet Muhammad – PBUH for their ulterior motives.

Soon after the issuance of notification, the Pakistan Electronic Media Regulatory Authority (PEMRA) barred all television channels and FM radio stations from providing any coverage to the party, under Clause 3(3) of the Electronic Media Code of Conduct 2015.