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Pakistan PM Imran Khan surrenders before radical Islamists, lifts the ban on extremist party Tehreek-i-Labbaik Pakistan

Tehreek-e-Labbaik Pakistan is a far-right Islamic extremist political party in Pakistan, which demands that Sharia should be established as the Islamic fundamental law in Pakistan

Succumbing to the pressure of radical Islamists, Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan on November 6 gave his permission to lift the ban on the extremist group Tehreek-i-Labbaik Pakistan (TLP). As a result, the organization has been withdrawn from the Fourth Schedule which is the official terrorist watch list of Pakistan.

The Imran Khan government approved to lift the ban on the basis of a report sent by the Punjab government through the Ministry of Interior. “The prime minister has been pleased to accord permission for submission of the instant summary to the cabinet through circulation under Rule 17 (1)(b) of the Rules of Business, 1973,” according to an official document. “The approval of the cabinet is [now] solicited to de-proscribe the TLP under […] Anti-Terrorism Act, 1997 on the recommendation of the Punjab government.” As per the Rules of Business, 1973, approval by circulation means that a summary is sent to federal ministers for their opinion. If a minister fails to respond within the stipulated time period, the report is deemed approved.

TLP or the ‘Movement of Prophet’s Followers’ is an extremist Sunni Islamist group. Known for its attacks and violent action, its main focus is protecting Pakistan’s draconian blasphemy law and punishing blasphemers. It was set up in 2015.

In April this year, the Imran Khan government had put this outfit on the list of proscribed organisations in the wake of the violent protests organised by TLP to expel the French ambassador over an alleged objectionable cartoon on the prophet published in France in magazine Charlie Hebdo.

Last month the TLP again hit the street with violent protests. Islamabad and Rawalpindi, the twin city of Pakistan were virtually cut off from the rest of Pakistan as it carried a protest rally from Lahore to Islamabad. Along with the old demand of the expulsion French ambassador from Pakistan, protesters have been demanding the release of their leader Saad Rizvi and others. In recent days, at least 21 people including 10 policemen have lost their lives during fierce confrontations between the TLP workers and law enforcement authorities.

The abject surrender of Imran Khan before a lawless brigade of Barelvi militants has left many worried

Immediately the extent of concessions the Imran Khan government has conceded to TLP is known, other than the lift of the ban, since details have not been shared by the government yet. But reports suggest a complete surrender of the Pakistan government before TLP which has worried progressives in Pakistan. The government has already released more than 2,000 TLP activists arrested and charged for murder, assault and destruction of properties.

“The cost of surrender: It is the seventh time in the past five years that the Tehreek-i-Labbaik Pakistan (TLP) has brought the state to its knees. Each time it has returned more empowered,” said one Pakistani citizen named Muhammad Jafar on Twitter.

Zahid Hussain, author of ‘No-Win War — The Paradox of US-Pakistan Relations in Afghanistan’s Shadow’ in his article published in the Dawn has said that the terms of surrender may not have been made public but the capitulation could not have been more humiliating. He said that the surrender of the government before TLP was not surprising since it was for the seven times in the past five years when the writ of the state crumbled in the face of violent extremism.

He wondered if the government became helpless before a few thousand zealots led by a foul-mouthed cleric since they have alleged support of the intelligence agencies. He questioned how a militant sectarian outfit was allowed to participate in the 2018 elections that preach violence in the name of faith and hailed Mumtaz Qadri, the murderer of the governor of Punjab Salmaan Taseer. Even if TLP didn’t win any National Assembly seat, it emerged as the fourth-largest bloc in Punjab in terms of the share of votes.

A Pakistani blogger and writer termed it as a ‘Duplicitous approach of Riyasat e Medina.’

Pakistan’s leading weekly magazine The News on Sunday described this deal in its headline A Compromise. The magazine quoted sources saying that the Imran Khan government has agreed to initiate a parliamentary debate on blasphemous acts in France, which is among the demands of TLP.

Ayodhra Ram Mandir special coverage by OpIndia

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OpIndia Staff
OpIndia Staff
Staff reporter at OpIndia

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