Pakistan to ban violent religious group under counterterrorism law

Tehreek-e-Labbaik Pakistan (TLP) workers continue anti-government protests in Lahore and elsewhere in Pakistan.–File photo

Pakistan has decided to ban the violent religious group Tehreek-e-Labbaik Pakistan (TLP) under the country’s anti-terrorism law.

Speaking to the media at a press conference in Islamabad on Wednesday, Interior Minister Sheikh Rashid Ahmed said the federal government had decided to ban the TLP under the Rule 11-B of the Anti-Terrorism Act, 1997. He said the decision in this regard was taken after all efforts to convince the TLP to end violent protests failed. He said the Punjab government had proposed a ban on the TLP.

Sheikh Rashid said the summary seeking ban on the TLP would be sent to the federal cabinet. He said the federal government led by the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) wanted to table a resolution in the National Assembly for this purpose after building a consensus on the issue. He said the TLP wanted to march on Islamabad and stage a sit-in at the Faizabad entrance to the federal capital. He said the ruling party put in best of its efforts to convince the TLP to drop the idea of marching on Islamabad, but they didn’t budge. He said he himself was ready to sacrifice his life for the honour of Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him).

The interior minister said that TLP activists snatched a rife in Islamabad and opened fire on the police. He said the TLP wanted the government to do something, forcing all Europeans to leave Pakistan. He said the government had not planned anything against the TLP, but the TLP had planned a lot of things against the government. He said the government would abide by the peace agreement it reached with the TLP a few months ago.

Answering a question about the closure of roads by violent workers of the TLP, the interior minister said that GT Road and the motorways had been cleared of the protesters.

The Tehreek-e-Labbaik Pakistan, formed by Allama Khadim Hussain Rizvi on August 1, 2015, is a far-right religious group linked to attacks on peaceful citizens, public and private infrastructure and vehicles during protests against the alleged incidents of blasphemy, whether in Pakistan or abroad. The group has also been taking part in the national elections over the last couple of years.

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