Newly appointed leader of rightwing group demands government fulfill terms of agreement penned with former chief by Feb. 17
The Tehreek-e-Labaik Pakistan (TLP) on Sunday warned the government of fresh protests if Islamabad fails to fulfill a promise to expel the French ambassador from the country by Feb. 17 over the re-publication of blasphemous caricatures.
“We’re bound to honor the agreement until Feb. 17,” newly appointed TLP leader Maulana Saad Rizvi told thousands of mourners in attendance at the chehlum of his father, Khadim Hussain Rizvi, who also founded the group. “A war to protect the honor of Islam’s Prophet has been waged. If someone has some misunderstanding, it must be removed as we pledge that there shall be no delay in taking a decision after Feb. 17,” he added.
“If you have forgotten the promise, see our history. We are even more ready to die [for the honor of Islam’s Prophet],” warned Rizvi. “You’ve got until Feb. 17 to expel the French ambassador,” he stressed, adding that this was in line with an agreement penned between the government and the TLP to enact laws in Parliament severing all ties with France.
The newly-appointed leader said he fully understood the concerns of TLP workers and supporters, stressing that they were ready to offer their lives for Islam’s Prophet.
TLP founder Khadim Rizvi died on Nov. 19, mere days after the group signed an agreement with the government to end a sit-in in Islamabad demanding the immediate expulsion of the French ambassador to Pakistan, as well as a total economic boycott of French products.
Under the agreement, which was signed by then-interior minister Brig (retd.) Ijaz Shah, Religious Affairs Minister Noorul Haq Qadri, and Islamabad Commissioner Amer Ahmad, the government claimed it would expel the French ambassador to Pakistan within 2-3 months via parliamentary consensus; would not appoint any ambassador to France; boycott French products at the government-level; and release all TLP workers who were arrested in the lead-up to, and during, the sit-in.
Of these demands, the government has thus far only fulfilled the release of all arrested TLP workers.