Home Latest News PTI-Led Government Revokes Ban on Tehreek-e-Labaik Pakistan

PTI-Led Government Revokes Ban on Tehreek-e-Labaik Pakistan

by Newsweek Pakistan

TLP protesters in Wazirabad. Screengrab

Decision to rescind proscribed status believed to be in accordance with terms of ‘secret deal’ inked between authorities and rightwing group

The Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI)-led government on Sunday reversed its earlier decision to declare the Tehreek-e-Labaik Pakistan (TLP) a “proscribed” organization, approving a summary forwarded by the Interior Ministry to remove the group from the First Schedule of the Anti-Terrorism Act, 1997.

The incumbent government had declared the TLP a “banned” organization in April on the recommendation of the Punjab Home Department. At the time, the government had claimed that the TLP was being banned for violently clashing with security forces during a protest, martyring several police officials and injuring scores more.

“In exercise of the powers conferred under sub-section (I) of Section 11U of the Anti-Terrorism Act, 1997 (as amended), the federal government is pleased to remove the name of the Tehreek-e-Labaik Pakistan from the First Schedule of the said Act as a proscribed organization for the purpose of the said Act,” reads the notification issued by the Interior Ministry on Sunday. It said the decision had been taken on the request of the Punjab government.

Summarizing the reasons behind the decision to end the TLP’s proscribed status, the notification said that the group had been placed in the First Schedule as a banned organization on April 15 on the recommendation of the Punjab Home Department. “Whereas, the provincial cabinet has considered the request of the organization and in view of the assurance and commitment by the organization, is of the opinion that said organization shall abide by the Constitution and laws of the country and, therefore, keeping in view the larger national interest and long-term perspective to ensure that such incidents do not recur in future, the government of Punjab has proposed to the federal government to consider revoking of proscription of the TLP,” it adds.

The federal government on Oct. 31 inked a “secret” agreement with the TLP to encourage it to end its ongoing sit-in demanding the release of detained chief Saad Hussain Rizvi and an end to the group’s proscribed status. While no details of the agreement have been officially confirmed, Mufti Munibur Rehman—who negotiated with the government on behalf of the TLP—said that the deal called for all of TLP’s imprisoned workers, including chief Rizvi, to be released; withdrawal of all pending cases against them; and an end to their proscribed status to allow them to contest elections without any concern.

Rehman also told media that the results of the deal would become visible “soon”; since then, the government has released thousands of detained TLP workers and rescinded the ban on it. Rizvi, however, remains imprisoned and is proving a sticking point for the protesters. Sources within the government have claimed he would be released today (Monday).

On Oct. 30, the TLP asked its supporters to continue their sit-in at Wazirabad until negotiations with the government had concluded. Following the announcement of the secret deal, most protesters have returned home but thousands remain part of the sit-in, vowing to continue their demonstration until Saad Rizvi has been released.

The TLP’s latest protest commenced on Oct. 19 at their headquarters in Lahore. After three days, the group’s leadership announced a long march on Islamabad. The often-violent demonstration saw multiple clashes between police and the TLP, resulting in at least seven police officials being martyred and hundreds of injuries on both sides.

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