APP DigitalISLAMABAD, April 14 (APP): In a major move the government on Wednesday announced to ban Tehreek-e-Labaik Pakistan (TLP) as a terrorist outfit, Interior Minister Sheikh Rashid Ahmed said.

The announcement came after two days of violent clashes and road blockades set on key highways and motorways as the party workers across the country protested, following the arrest of its top leader.

The Interior Minister said the ban on the TLP has been placed under Section 11 B of the Anti-Terrorism Act 1997, on the recommendation of the Punjab government, and added that a summary in this regard has been moved to the federal cabinet.

“Today we have decided to ban TLP and we will get the approval of the cabinet,” Sheikh Rashid Ahmed told at a news conference.

Sheikh Rashid announces ban on TLP
Sheikh Rashid announces ban on TLP

He said several rounds of talks were held with the TLP leaders however the party remained stuck to its stance. He said on the one hand they were talking, and on the other directing their workers to prepare for a march on Islamabad, with full force.

Sheikh Rashid also told a news channel that the decision to ban the party has the nod of all the stakeholders and has been taken after thorough deliberations. He said there were several other religious parties in the country, but none resorted to such violent behaviour. He said only in the past few years, the TLP has held several violent protests, bringing the entire country to a grinding halt.

He was optimistic that the ban on the TLP would be announced in the next few days, after the cabinet gives it a go-ahead. An official source said the summary of the Interior Ministry has been sent to the Prime Minister and after his approval will be circulated amongst the members for their consent.

Sheikh Rashid Ahmed said no single political party can claim ownership to Namoos-e-Risalat, as he pointed that it was a matter close to the hearts of the entire 20 million people of this country. Sheikh Rashid said the government remained committed to table a bill on Namoos-e-Risalat in the National Assembly.

The minister said there was absolutely no question on the issue of “finality of Prophethood (Khatam-e-Nabwat)” and no Muslim, including him, could even think of deviating from it, even at the cost of their lives.

Earlier the federal cabinet in its meeting on Tuesday agreed on taking stern action against the miscreants for creating lawlessness and causing roadblocks on major roads, causing a serious threat to the lives and property of the people.

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Section 11 B of the Anti Terrorism Act, 1997
Section 11 B of the Anti Terrorism Act, 1997

Under the Anti-Terrorism Act the Federal Government may list an organization as a proscribed organization if there were reasonable grounds to believe that it was involved in terrorism; or owned or controlled, directly or indirectly, by any individual or organization proscribed or acting on behalf of, or at the direction of, any individual or organization proscribed under this Act.

The Tehreek e Taliban Pakistan -TTP in a statement in Urdu released to the media extended full solidarity with the Tehreek e Labaik Pakistan – TLP and vowed to avenge every drop of bloodshed.

In a statement, the TTP spokesman Mohammad Khurasani lauded the TLP workers for “valiantly confronting the puppet police and other law enforcement departments.” He regretted the arrest of TLP workers and vowed to stand by it in their hour of difficulty.

TTP supports TLP
TTP supports TLP

He said the TLP workers stopped ambulances from rushing patients to hospitals and disrupted the supply of oxygen cylinders for the Covid-19 patients.

He was also appreciative of the role of the Pakistan Rangers for working in close coordination with the police and the administration. The interior minister strongly condemned the attacks on the police personnel and said no one can be allowed to take the law into their hands.

In Lahore, the police officers and men joined together for a second funeral in as many days for the constable Mohammad Imran, who too was brutally beaten to death by the TLP workers.

He said the police personnel kidnapped by TLP workers from different places have all been recovered. He said 2 police constables were martyred, while over 240 injured in the clashes.

Minister for Science and Technology Fawad Chaudhry in a tweet said the “police and security agencies are our pride. All over the world, uniformed people are considered a symbol for the honour and safety of the state”.

He said all those who violate these rules would be treated as national criminals and treated as such. “The state has never been blackmailed by gangs before, nor will it be, in the future.” He vowed to make an example of all those found involved in the torture and killing of the police personnel.

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The TLP protests were triggered on Monday following the arrest of its top leader Allama Saad Hussain Rizvi from Lahore. The party has been protesting against the blasphemous caricatures published in France and demanded that the French ambassador be expelled. It had given a deadline of April 20 to meet its demand, else, it warned, it would march on to the Capital.

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Sheikh Rashid earlier chaired a meeting to review the overall law and order situation. The meeting was attended by Minister for Religious Affairs Noor ul Haq Qadri, Interior Secretary, Inspectors Generals of police of Punjab and Islamabad, Chief Commissioner Islamabad and representatives of Pakistan Rangers and other law enforcement agencies. The meeting expressed resolve to ensure the writ of the State at all costs.

The Deputy Commissioner Islamabad in a tweet said five points were blocked in Islamabad. but the ICT Police with extremely limited resources cleared all. “No lives lost. No lethal injuries. Almost no loss of property. Real-life heroes.”

Much to the relief of the people, the National Highways and Motorways Police in a travel advisory said all roads, highways and motorways, within its jurisdiction were open for traffic.

The social media activists have been charged up after watching the attacks by unruly youngsters against the road users, vehicles, public property and particularly their treatment of the police constables. The hashtag #BanTLP and #TLP_Terrorists was among the top trends.

-Report by Shafek Koreshe