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ISLAMABAD: Government of Pakistan has decided to ban religio-political party Tehreek-e-Labbaik Pakistan (TLP), Interior Minister Sheikh Rasheed announced on Wednesday.

Addressing a news conference after chairing a high-level meeting in Islamabad, Sheikh Rashid said “We have decided to ban TLP and this file is going to the federal cabinet to get a nod.”

The Interior Minister has announced that keeping in view the party’s recent activities including abduction of policemen and destroying of public property has led the federal government to ban TLP under Anti-Terrorism Act 1997, (11) B.

He said the action is being taken following the Punjab government’s recommendation for placing a ban on the TLP. The minister asked the TLP activists to surrender.

The minister maintained that at least two police officers embraced martyrdom while 340 others were injured during the recent protests by TLP while the party’s workers also tried to take a number of policemen hostage to force the government to accept their demands.

Sheikh Rasheed made it clear that no case registered against TLP men regarding violence during protests will be taken back and also urged members of the party’s social media wing to surrender themselves before law enforcement agencies.

The minister said that a detailed summary will be forwarded to the federal cabinet to ban the party on the recommendation of government of Punjab.

The decision comes two days after party chief Saad Hussain Rizvi was arrested by the Lahore police.

It is pertinent to note here that the party’s protests had disrupted traffic in various cities of the country since Monday after the arrest of the their chief Maulana Saad Rizvi.

Police had arrested Rizvi at around 2pm on Wahdat Road in Lahore on Monday where he had gone to attend a funeral.

Earlier, Rizvi has announced that the party will hold a march against the government on April 20. In November 2020, the PTI government had signed an agreement with the TLP, agreeing to expel the French ambassador from Pakistan with “consensus from parliament” after the group staged a protest in Islamabad over the publication of blasphemous caricatures in a French magazine.

Syed Zaheer-ul-Islam Shah, the deputy head of the TLP, said in a video released on social media that the government had violated the agreement to expel the French ambassador by arresting Rizvi.

Saad was elected as the TLP chief in November 2020, by the party’s Shura after his father Khadim Hussan Rizvi’s death. The announcement was made after the funeral prayers.

Saad Rizvi, Allama Rizvi’s 26-year-old son, was chosen to lead the party by its 18-member shura. He has been active in the party for the past few years, serving as its deputy secretary-general. He used to stay in touch with reporters and made the party presence felt on social media.

According to his friend Salman, Saad is a student of Darja-e-Aaliya of Dars-e-Nizami. He is studying at his father’s Abuzar Ghaffari seminary.

“He is a smart man with a deep interest in books,” said Salman. “Unlike other madrassa students, Saad knows the importance of social media and used it to spread his father’s message.”

The TLP and its members had accounts on Facebook but they knew nothing about Twitter, said, Salman. Saad knew that the microblogging site was a very important platform and believed that the party should have a presence on it because the mainstream media wasn’t giving them coverage.

“He visited several madrassas and explained Twitter and its use to the students,” his friend said. “Now, you can see TLP trends on Twitter.”

Saad is popular among young party workers and also worked as a bridge between them and Allama Rizvi, according to his friend. NNI