Check out this story: Tehreek-e-Labbaik violence shows Pakistan is at war, can’t play peacemaker in Afghanistan https://flip.it/JKIS5t
What’s with the TLP?
There is now enough in the public domain about the group, registered as Tehreek-e-Labbaik Pakistan with the Election Commission in 2015, with a manifesto that seemed relatively harmless, compared to hot heads like the Jamaat-ud-Dawa. But it is unabashedly anti-Shia, against all ‘foreign influences’ and came together under the leadership of a man who thrived on implementation of the harsh provisions of the Pakistan Penal Code against blasphemy. Those provisions have led to frequent attacks against minorities and Shias across the country on the slenderest of pretexts.
Experts also point to the fact that Pakistan’s constitution has more Islamic clauses than nearly 40 other such States, with only Saudi Arabia and Iran competing for the top spot. So there’s enough material for any ambitious extremist to work on. And that’s what Khadim Rizvi, a former lowly auqaf worker in the Punjab government did in 2011, creating the group that started a series of agitations and violence, including one as ridiculous as alleging blasphemy against the country’s law minister Zahid Hamid, simply over changing the wording of an oath for prospective legislators. The violence was ended after the minister’s resignation and the military playing broker, famously, with Major General Navid Hayat, DG of Punjab Rangers, filmed paying money to the protesters.
All this made for great publicity, which led Khadim to contest elections in 2018 that essentially ate into Nawaz Sharif’s vote bank in Punjab. The TLP garnered 2.5 million votes across the country, and a newbie Right winger emerged as the fifth largest party. That this immensely helped the establishment’s vicious campaign against Sharif goes without saying.
Chaos and the TLP
Khadim’s son Saad Hussain Rizvi was declared the Ameer at the highly charged funeral. Under the young leader, the group was soon messaging furiously on Twitter and other social media platforms, extending its reach and leading it to do well in by-elections in Sialkot, Tharparkar, Nowshera, among others. In other words, it was gaining a national signature.
By February, the new Ameer was demanding the implementation of the Faizabad Agreement 2020, reached between his father and the government on expulsion of the French ambassador, signed by no less than the interior and religious affairs minister, as well as the Islamabad deputy commissioner. Frenetic dialogues later, the government agreed to table its demands in parliament before 20 April, thus seemingly buying Islamabad some time. But it was not to be. Saad Hussain declared that the French ambassador should be expelled well before Eid.
Somewhere something clicked. The leader was picked up in broad daylight in Lahore as the police allegedly filmed and put out the arrest video on social media. The result was serious violence with the police and the Rangers bearing the brunt. Videos, however, showed army deployment, some of whom seemed to be leading the protests rather than stopping them.
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