Banned Tehreek-e-Labbaik Pakistan may resurface under new banner, analysts

ANI
·3-min read
Representative Image
Representative Image

Lahore [Pakistan], April 25 (ANI): Analysts believe that Pakistan's inaction against proscribed terror outfits may lead Tehreek-e-Labbaik Pakistan (TLP) to function under a new name, after it was banned on April 15.

Counterterror watchdog Financial Action Task Force (FATF) has criticized Pakistan's inaction against proscribed terror outfits that continue to function under different names. Pakistan's prosecution of designated terror groups has remained the primary stumbling block since the country's return to the grey list in 2018, reported Zenger.

"Conditions are created where such elements flourish," former Punjab chief minister and political scientist Hasan Askari Rizvi told Zenger News.

"In the past, many religious groups have resurfaced under new names. Let's see what happens. To curtail such groups, you need a new policy. Law is an important factor, but until you change the mindset in the society and this inclination for making all issues religious issues, [support for radical Islamism] will continue," Rizvi, who authored "Military, State, and Society in Pakistan", said.

Kunwar Khuldune Shahid, in an article in Zenger said that some analysts believe that like other proscribed radical Islamist groups in Pakistan -- most notably Sipah-e-Sahaba Pakistan (now called Millat-e-Islamia) -- the TLP could resurface under a new banner.

TLP emerged as an Islamist pressure group opposing the 2016 hanging of Mumtaz Qadri for murdering former Punjab governor Salman Taseer who had criticized Pakistan's blasphemy laws. Blasphemy is a legal offense in the country.

Following Qadri's execution, the TLP and affiliated groups organized nationwide protests, often resorting to destruction of property and street intimidation, an approach it has persisted with.

In November 2017, the TLP held the capital hostage for weeks after amendments in the Electoral Reforms Bill, which had overlooked the mandatory anti-Ahmadi clause requiring the members of the constitutionally excommunicated community to declare themselves non-Muslims to participate in any election process.

A month after the incumbent Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf government came to power in September 2018, the TLP launched protests against an anti-Islam cartoon competition organized by far-right Dutch lawmaker Geert Wilders in the Netherlands.

In October 2018, the TLP protested against the Supreme Court releasing Christian woman Asia Bibi establishing that she was falsely accused of blasphemy against Islam. Last year, the TLP's backlash prevented the release of the award-winning Pakistani film "Zindagi Tamasha" for portraying a naat-khawan (a reciter of poetry praising Prophet Muhammad) in a negative light, reported Zenger.

The TLP's latest pushback comes after "Charlie Hebdo" decided to republish caricatures of Prophet Muhammad, coinciding with the trial of abettors of the 2015 jihadist attack on the publication.

French President Emmanuel Macron's defense of free speech on religion after a schoolteacher, Samuel Paty, was decapitated by a radical Islamist for showing the French satirical publication's cartoons in class also irked the group.

Some interpret the rise of the TLP as being backed by the military establishment, specifically to target the conservative vote bank of the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz ahead of the 2018 elections.

Many also point out the duplicity of the ruling party Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf. It supported the TLP holding Islamabad hostage while in opposition in 2017, with the current interior minister Sheikh Rashid then lauding them as true 'Aashiq-e-Rasool'.

TLP was seeking the expulsion of the French ambassador Marc Barety, escalated nationwide violence that resulted in the deaths of four police officers apart from infrastructure damage.

The recent violence was in response to the April 12 arrest of TLP chief Saad Hussain Rizvi for organizing a rally to push the government to implement an informal agreement on boycotting French goods and severing diplomatic ties.

The TLP made the government agree to its terms before calling off a protest. The meeting was held in November 2020 with then-Interior Minister Ijaz Ahmed Shah, Minister for Religious Affairs Pir Noor-ul-Haq Qadri, and Islamabad's deputy commissioner Muhammed Hamza Shafqaat. (ANI)