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TLP to be treated as militant outfit says govt

Updated 28 Oct, 2021
Supporters of TLP run amid the smoke of tear gas during a protest in Lahore last week. Reuters
Supporters of TLP run amid the smoke of tear gas during a protest in Lahore last week. Reuters

Following Wednesday's meeting of the cabinet, the government has said it will treat the banned Tehreek i Labbaik Pakistan as a militant outfit, vowing to use force to quell the group from reaching Islamabad in its long march.

Prime Minister Imran Khan said his government will not allow anyone to take the law into their hands as he ordered authorities to stop TLP supporters from continuing on their march.

The government also said it would not meet the TLP’s demand of expelling the French ambassador from the country.

This was stated by Information Minister Fawad Chaudhry in a press conference in which he said they would not tolerate any challenge to writ of law.

“The cabinet has decided to treat TLP as a militant organisation and it will be crushed as other such groups have been eliminated," he said, adding they had fought terrorist organizations like Al Qaeda in the past, as well.

He said this was also decided in a meeting on Tuesday attended by military and civilian leadership wherein they said TLP could not be treated as a political party but as a militant organization.

He said since the TLP was established in 2015, its strategy is to come out on the roads and block traffic.

“But there is a limit to the state’s patience,” said Fawad.

He said the people had a right to their “ideas” but could not be allowed to take up arms if their ideas were not heard.

Clashes with the TLP supporters and police killed four policemen on Wednesday as Rangers were called in to control the situation. The government has announced the Rangers will be deployed for 60 days.

There was some confusion earlier this week when Interior Minister said on October 25 that the TLP was not a banned outfit.

"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 minister then said a day later the talks with TLP had been a success and their demands would be met except the expulsion of the French envoy. He said Pakistan could not afford to isolate itself from the international community.

However, things took a surprising turn when the TLP accused Sheikh Rasheed of lying and said the government had reneged on its promise of expelling the French ambassador and would march to Islamabad.

Petition to declare TLP terrorists to be filed soon

In his press conference Fawad said the government will be filing a petition to the Supreme Court to declare the TLP a terrorist organization.

Fawad also questioned how the Election Commission of Pakistan had registered the TLP as a party on an application filed by a person who “lived abroad”.