Pakistan formally bans radical Islamist party TLP

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Islamabad, Apr 15 (PTI) Pakistan on Thursday formally banned radical Islamist party Tehreek-i-Labbaik Pakistan (TLP) under the Terrorism Act, accusing it of involvement in terrorism and acting in a manner prejudicial to the peace and security of the country.

Prime Minister Imran Khan chaired a meeting of the Cabinet which approved a summary from the interior ministry seeking a ban on the TLP, the Islamist party which bagged 2.5 million votes in the 2018 general elections.

The Interior Ministry issued a notification declaring TLP as a proscribed organisation shortly after the federal Cabinet approved the summary to ban the party, Dawn newspaper reported.

The notification said the federal government 'has reasonable grounds to believe that Tehreek Labbaik Pakistan is engaged in terrorism, acted in a manner prejudicial to the peace and security of the country, involved in creating anarchy in the country by intimidating the public, caused grievous bodily harm, hurt and death to the personnel of Law Enforcement Agencies…' The government will now present the declaration of the ban in the Supreme Court on Friday. The Election Commission will subsequently denotify the TLP on orders of the apex court. All TLP parliamentarians will be automatically disqualified after the ECP denotifies the party.

Interior Minister Sheikh Rashid Ahmed told the media that the government will not allow any relaxation to those who spread anarchy across Pakistan.

'No one is being allowed to go, no relaxation will be provided to them,' he was quoted as saying by the Geo TV.

Rasheed said the violence was unfortunate as the government was willing to negotiate with protesters. He said the government had not backed away from its promise to present a resolution of the religious party's demands in Parliament.

The TLP had launched the country-wide protest on Monday after the arrest of its chief Saad Hussain Rizvi ahead of April 20 deadline the Islamists had given to the Imran Khan government demanding expulsion of the French ambassador for publication of cartoons of the Prophet.

The TLP blocked the roads across the country following the arrest of Saad Rizvi, son of Khadim Hussain Rizvi who died a few months ago. The TLP supporters clashed with the law enforcement agencies in several towns and cities earlier this week, leaving seven persons dead and over 300 policemen injured.

Interestingly, the Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf government which is fully backed by the military establishment had signed an agreement with the TLP in November last agreeing to expel the French ambassador.

The TLP launched a massive protest in November last year against the cartoons but dispersed after the agreement with the government to expel the ambassador by February. The deal was extended until April 20.

The government had promised to take action on the demands of the TLP by bringing a legislation in the parliament.

The TLP shot to fame in 2017 when it held a massive protest for three weeks in the busy Faizabad interchange near Islamabad. The party lifted the lockdown of the city after the then government sacked the law minister. PTI ZH ZH