TLP will now be treated as ‘militant outfit’

Thursday, Oct 28, 2021

By News Desk

ISLAMABAD: The federal cabinet had decided to treat banned Tehreek-e-Labbaik Pakistan (TLP) as a militant organisation, said Information Minister Fawad Chaudhry on Wednesday, as the government announced the deployment of para-military Rangers in Punjab to maintain law and order situation in the province amid violent protests.

Every individual had the right to have their own particular belief, but “no one will be allowed to blackmail the state,” said Chaudhry at a media briefing following the cabinet’s meeting chaired by Prime Minister Imran Khan.

The minister said the top leadership had decided to treat the TLP as a militant group on persistently challenging writ of the state by creating chaos with the support of anti-state elements. “On Tuesday, a clear policy decision was taken in a meeting, which was held under the chairmanship of Prime Minister Imran Khan and attended by the Pakistan Army, Intelligence Agencies and all the concerned authorities, that the proscribed Tehreek-e-Labaik will be treated as a militant group,” he said.

“We will not treat this organisation as a political party,” he said while urging other concerned departments, especially the Election Commission of Pakistan to play their role in this regard.

The minister said the matter pertaining to the organisation would be dealt in a same manner as of other terrorist organisations that were annihilated in the past.

He said the state and the government demonstrated utmost restraint and avoided use of force against the violent protesters of the TLP, which was not a political organisation but a militant group.

Chaudhry said previously the activists of proscribed TLP had martyred six policemen and injured over 700 people and now they had martyred three more policemen and injured 49 others. He said it was now the responsibility of all the institutions to treat TLP as a militant outfit.

The minister said checking activities of such groups had become inevitable to secure lives of the people and to uphold the sanctity of the state of Pakistan.

He said the government was also vigilant about fake news and negative propaganda being spread on the social media, adding such elements should refrain from spreading fake news, otherwise, the state would come hard on them.

Later at a news conference here, Interior Minister Sheikh Rashid announced that the government had decided to summon the Punjab Rangers to maintain law and order situation in the province amid the ongoing protests by the proscribed TLP.

Rashid said the government wanted to establish peace as there was a lot of international pressure on Pakistan. “We have decided to summon the Rangers for a period of 60 days to maintain law and order situation in the province,” he added.

The interior minister said since the ambassador of France was not present in Pakistan, the proscribed organisation seemed to have “another agenda” — as one of their demands from the government was the expulsion of the said envoy. “Yesterday, I had warned that foreign powers want to impose sanctions on Pakistan,” Rashid said. “The TLP has turned into a militant organisation as its members had opened fire on policemen using Kalashnikovs.”

“I am still warning the protesters to return home,” Rashid said, adding the government could not keep schools and hospitals closed due to the protests.

“The TLP is banned in Pakistan and now it is feared that it may be banned internationally too,” he warned, adding Pakistan would not be able to intervene if such a thing happened.

The interior minister said the government tried holding talks with the proscribed organisation and kept its word, but “the TLP broke its promises.” “It is not possible for the government to shut down the French embassy,” the interior minister said, adding the government had already reached an agreement with the proscribed organisation and it would stand by the signed deal.

“The government has to establish its writ and is not happy with the loss of innocent lives,” Rashid said referring to the martyrdom of policemen.

The Punjab police chief Rao Sardar Ali Khan said in a separate press conference that four policemen died on Wednesday.

The outlawed TLP has been behind major anti-France protests. The group is protesting over the detention of its leader Saad Rizvi, arrested in April when the TLP was outlawed, and demanding the expulsion of the French ambassador.

The latest demonstration began on Friday in the group’s stronghold city of Lahore, from where thousands of people have begun slowly moving towards the capital Islamabad.

The government had earlier this week announced a breakthrough in talks with the TLP, but the march resumed on Wednesday. Police have closed off major roads and junctions leading to the capital, around 300 kilometres from the current protest site.