LAHORE: The funeral prayers for Allama Khadim Hussain Rizvi, who passed away on Thursday evening, will be offered at 10am on Saturday (today) at the Greater Iqbal Park and he will be buried at Rehmatul Lil Alameen Mosque (Yateem Khana Chowk) where he was a prayer leader.

The city of Lahore started experiencing the impact of the death of the firebrand cleric when all entry points to the city and roads leading to his mosque faced traffic pressure, reporting long queues and jams. The pressure is set to grow on Saturday as thousands of his followers are expected to reach his funeral site and later to his burial site.

According to the workers of the Tehreek-i-Labaik Pakistan (TLP), the party will have a difficult time replacing him. The party shoora might meet shortly and choose either his current deputy Syed Zaheerul Hassan or one of his two sons to succeed him. However, replacing such a towering personality will not be easy, neither for the successor nor for the party. There was no official word from the party on his successor or meeting of the shoora.

“The workers and party leadership will take quite a while to come out of shock of this sudden loss,” said a party leader who did not want to be named.

“One must not forget that the TLP is not a political party, but a religious one – where the leader is also religious and spiritual guide as well and enjoys total political, religious and personal allegiance. The loss is thus personal for all workers who are shocked and it would take long before they accept the loss and move on,” he said.

A leader from the rival faction, led by Ashraf Asif Jalali, thinks that it would be premature to expect any progress on unification of the two factions. He said even on practical grounds, one must keep in mind that the TLP (Rizvi faction) had a complete leadership and party structure, which had its own manifesto and programme and plans.

“Once the loss sinks in and the Rizvi faction overcomes its grief, there might be some chance. But, it is certainly not time to even think on these lines, let alone expecting any progress,” he concluded.

Published in Dawn, November 21st, 2020