TLP playing politics over Muhammad cartoons, says former Pak envoy

ANI
·2-min read
Representative image
Representative image

Islamabad [Pakistan], April 18 (ANI): In the aftermath of a violent protest by the radical Islamist party Tehreek-i-Labbaik Pakistan (TLP), Husain Haqqani, a former Pakistani ambassador to the US, has said that TLP is playing politics over the Muhammad cartoons.

Haqqani, who is the director for South and Central Asia at the Hudson Institute in Washington, told Deutsche Welle (DW) that the demand to expel its ambassador over alleged blasphemy is just a "gimmick."

"France is a major financial donor to Pakistan and the demand to expel its ambassador over alleged blasphemy is just a gimmick," former Pakistani envoy said. "If Pakistan starts expelling ambassadors of all countries where someone commits what these hard-liners see as blasphemy then Islamabad will have diplomatic relations with very few countries," Haqqani added.

TLP has now been banned, under the country's anti-terrorism law and the federal government of Pakistan moved to Supreme Court for dissolution of the TLP that caused violent protests this week following the arrest of their leader.

The TLP protested against the arrest of their leader Khadim Hussain Rizvi, who was taken into custody earlier this week, and blasphemous caricatures published in France. The violent protests resulted in several casualties across the country.

The demonstrators have demanded that the French ambassador be sent home and import of goods from that country should be banned, as reported by Dawn. 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.

According to the DW, TLP's core ideology revolves around the "finality of Prophet Muhammad" and the protection of Pakistan's blasphemy laws.

"The group represents a powerful Sunni sect and its mission is to protect the honour of the prophet. The TLP is now a formidable political force in Pakistan," Raza Rumi, a Pakistani political analyst, told DW.

Under Pakistan's contentious Blasphemy laws, anyone deemed to have insulted Islam or the Prophet Muhammad can face the death penalty.

In December 2020, USCIRF published a report on 'Violating Rights: Enforcing the World's Blasphemy Laws', which examines the enforcement of blasphemy laws worldwide. This report found that the country with the most cases of state-enforced blasphemy laws was Pakistan, with 184 cases identified between 2014-2018.

"The TLP's main motivation revolves around aggressively defending Pakistan's blasphemy laws. That has long been its bread and butter. Linked to this focus on the blasphemy laws is the group's bigoted views toward religious minorities, the very groups that suffer the most from these laws," Michael Kugelman, a Washington-based South Asia expert was quoted as saying by DW. (ANI)