Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan addressed the nation on Monday evening and said that although his government and the recently proscribed Tehreek-i-Labbaik Pakistan (TLP) had the same goal to end incidents of blasphemy around the world, their methodologies to deal with the issue were different.
PM Khan said 40 police vehicles had been burnt, damage worth tens of millions of rupees had been caused to people’s private property, and four policemen had been martyred and more than 800 injured.
He further added that the blockade of nearly 100 roads when the protest started had prevented oxygen cylinders from reaching Covid-19 patients, resulting in their deaths.
“And then Pakistan’s enemies jumped in from abroad. From the 400,000 tweets we have analysed so far, 70 per cent were from fake accounts,”
Indeed it is a rare occurrence that such a militant group gained such power in Pakistan and the blame was put on India indirectly. Khan forgot that his own generals are behind this because they are getting restless after the ceasefire announcement.
On the other hand, Interior Minister Sheikh Rasheed had announced the ban on TLP saying that he would eliminate the organisation. Even till Sunday, he was saying that there are no negotiations held between the government and the banned party. Now, on Monday evening, he disclosed that negotiations are currently going on and the results are expected to come out later on Tuesday night.
There could be a plausible reason why there was a shift in the statements of the Interior Minister, maybe it is because there were attacks on his residents Lal Haveli in Rawalpindi. Despite this scenario, the mysterious question is how can such a low profile organization that made it into mainstream politics merely two or three years ago became so capable and powerful that it causes the entire country to shut down especially Punjab whose heartland Lahore was badly affected when hundreds of militants crossed all barriers, stormed a police station, kidnapped 17 security personnel. The display of power shook the state.
It looks like the state has surrendered by offering them a seat for negotiation. The rise of TTP and their counterpart LET and JEM was understandable because they had support initially from the US and then from Al-Qaeda. Even then, their influence was majorly in the tribal areas and to some extent in KPK.
But the mystery surrounding the sudden rise of a small group of the Barelvi sect becoming such a powerful force remains unknown. The simple answer and the talk of the town especially in mainstream media are that maybe Rawalpindi is behind them. But, the argument is not convincing enough till now. People have doubts that some neighbouring Islamic country is financing a huge amount of money and time, which allowed TLP militants to grow in such a powerful way that the ruling, as well as, opposition parties stand on one side and these troublemakers with all their strong stand on the other.
We can see them in the near future as the most fierce force, which will not only challenge the government but also the state. Rawalpindi, so far, has not made any reaction on this and they have been very quiet and have not uttered a single word yet.
Due to the condition which Lahore had been in for the past 24 hours, it was expected that Paramilitary forces were likely to land, this whole dramatic scenario creates more questions than answers.