In a surprising statement during his press conference on Sunday, Interior Minister Sheikh Rasheed said the government had not "banned" the proscribed Tehreek-e-Labbaik Pakistan (TLP).
"They [the TLP] are contesting elections on their symbol. We didn't approach the Supreme Court [to ban the party]," said Rasheed in an attempt to explain the government's position on labelling the party proscribed.
In response to a question why the TLP was referred to as “proscribed” in media reports, the interior minister said: “It is written with their name, because we’ve declared them proscribed.”
The government slapped a ban on the TLP on April 15 under the Anti-Terrorism Act three days after the activists and supporters of the party held countrywide violent protests after the arrest of party's chief Saad Rizvi. The party called for protest as the government failed to fulfill its agreement with the TLP on the issue of expulsion of the French ambassador over blasphemy which had to be presented in the National Assembly.
At a joint press conference with Minister for Religious Affairs Noorul Haq Qadri, the interior minister then announced placing the list of banned organisations. At that time, Rasheed had claimed the government would take measures for the TLP’s dissolution.
On July 13, the federal cabinet decided to keep the ban on the TLP intact.
According to a Dawn report, an interior ministry notification declaring the TLP a proscribed organisation stated: “The federal government has reasonable grounds to believe that the TLP is engaged in terrorism, [has] acted in a manner prejudicial to the peace and security of the country, [was] involved in creating anarchy in the country by intimidating the public, caused grievous bodily harm, hurt and death to the personnel of Law Enforcement Agencies and innocent by-standers, attacked civilians and officials, created wide-scale hurdles, threatened, abused and promoted hatred, vandalised and ransacked public and government properties, including vehicles and caused arson, blocked essential health supplies to hospitals, and has threatened, coerced, intimidated, and overawed the government [and] the public and created sense of fear and insecurity in the society and the public at large.
“Therefore, in exercise of the powers conferred by Section 11B(1) of the Anti-Terrorism Act, 1997, the Federal Government is pleased to list TLP in the First Schedule to the said Act as a proscribed organisation.”