TLP calls off protest after reaching new agreement with govt

Published February 11, 2021
This file photo shows members of Tehreek-i-Labbaik Pakistan (TLP) during their march from Lahore to Islamabad. — Photo courtesy: TLP media cell
This file photo shows members of Tehreek-i-Labbaik Pakistan (TLP) during their march from Lahore to Islamabad. — Photo courtesy: TLP media cell

The Tehreek-i-Labbaik Pakistan (TLP) on Thursday called off a protest it was going to hold later this month after a new agreement was signed between the party leaders and the government in which it was decided that the government would present the terms of an agreement signed between them last year in the parliament before April 20.

The earlier agreement had said that the government would reach a consensus in the parliament regarding the expulsion of the French ambassador within three months, would not appoint its ambassador to France and would release all the arrested workers of the TLP. The government would also not register any case against the TLP leaders or workers even after it called off the sit-in (in November 2020), it stated.

Today's agreement, a copy of which was reviewed by Dawn.com, said that the government had not yet implemented the terms of the Nov 2020 agreement.

"Negotiations have been going on between the Government of Pakistan and TLP on this problem for a month during which the government has reaffirmed its resolve. Terms of the [previous] agreement will be presented in parliament by April 20, 2021, and decisions will be taken with the approval of the parliament," it reads.

It also said that names of TLP members that had been placed on the Fourth Schedule of the Anti-Terrorism Act (ATA) would be removed.

According to the Anti-Terrorism Act 1997, any individual placed on the Fourth Schedule or watch list is bound to inform the respective police before leaving their hometowns and after return and about their activities.

If the parties involved undertake any activity that is contradictory to the spirit of the agreement before April 20, 2021, it shall be considered void, the text of the agreement says.

"This preliminary agreement will be announced by the prime minister after which it will be implemented," it adds.

Confirming the agreement, Minister for Religious Affairs Pir Noorul Qadri said that TLP members talked to government officials in a "good way".

"Our stance on the issue of blasphemy of Holy Prophet Muhammad (Peace Be Upon Him) is clear and unambiguous," he said.

The agreement was signed by Dr Mohammad Shafiq Amini, Ghulam Ghous Rizvi and Ghulam Abbas Faizi from the TLP and the ministers of religious affairs and interior from the government's side.

Last year, dozens of policemen and TLP workers were injured when clashes broke out between the protesters and police in Rawalpindi.

Riot police had to resort to teargas shelling against the stone-pelting protesters who had gathered on the call of former TLP chief Allama Khadim Hussain Rizvi to denounce the publication of blasphemous caricatures in Charlie Hebdo magazine and remarks about Islam and terrorism by French President Emmanuel Macron.

More than 200 protesters had also been rounded up by police ahead of the protests.

However, the protesters had dispersed after an agreement was signed between the government and TLP on November 16, 2020.

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