Home Latest News TLP Chief Saad Hussain Rizvi Released from Prison

TLP Chief Saad Hussain Rizvi Released from Prison

by Newsweek Pakistan

Maulana Saad Rizvi. Image courtesy YouTube

Detained leader returns to party’s mosque headquarters in Lahore and will lead ceremony marking his father’s first death anniversary from tomorrow (Saturday)

Tehreek-e-Labaik Pakistan (TLP) chief Saad Hussain Rizvi was released from Lahore’s Kot Lakhpat Jail on Thursday and was greeted by hundreds of supporters upon his return to the party’s headquarters at Masjid Rehmatul-lil-Aalemeen.

In a statement, TLP spokesman Mufti Abid confirmed that Rizvi had reached the party’s headquarters on Thursday evening. He said that Rizvi would now lead an urs that the mosque is hosting on Nov. 20-21 to mark the first death anniversary of his father and former TLP chief Khadim Hussain Rizvi.

Rizvi was released nearly a week after the withdrawal of a reference filed in the Supreme Court’s federal review board for his detention, as well as the removal of his name from the Fourth Schedule, a list of individuals suspected of terrorism or sectarianism under the Anti-Terrorism Act, 1997. Both decisions were reportedly the result of a deal that the government inked with the TLP to end its long march on Islamabad. The terms of that agreement have yet to be made public.

Speaking to media after Rizvi’s release, Punjab Law Minister Basharat Raja said he had not been released by the provincial government. Rather, he said, it was a result of a federal review board decision to approve the Punjab government’s request to withdraw its application about the TLP chief’s detention.

Rizvi’s name was removed from the Fourth Schedule on Nov. 10. Three days earlier, the government had removed the TLP from the First Schedule of the Anti-Terrorism Act, 1997, ending its designation as a “proscribed” organization, thereby allowing it to contest elections.

The TLP chief was taken into custody on April 12, ahead of planned protests demanding the government fulfill an agreement to sever all diplomatic and economic ties with France over the publication of blasphemous caricatures. Initially detained for three months under the Maintenance of Public Order Act, Rizvi’s imprisonment was extended indefinitely on July 10 under sections of the ATA.

TLP protests

Rizvi’s release comes a little over two weeks after the TLP ended a long march on Islamabad demanding government end his detention and expel the French ambassador over the publication of blasphemous caricatures in the European nation. The latest protest had commenced on Oct. 20 in Lahore and often turned violent, resulting in at least seven policemen being killed and hundreds more injured.

Negotiations between the TLP and the government started on Oct. 30, with members of the negotiating team claiming that an “agreement” had been achieved on Oct. 31 but refusing to divulge any details.

According to sources, the TLP agreed to call off its protest in exchange for the government dropping cases against its workers; releasing Saad Rizvi; lifting a ban on the party; and unfreezing the accounts and assets of the group and its leaders.

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