LAHORE: Federal Interior Minister Sheikh Rashid on Thursday claimed that chief of the proscribed Tehreek-i-Labbaik Pakistan (TLP), Saad Rizvi, stood by his party’s demand for expulsion of the French ambassador from the country.
Mr Rashid’s statement contradicted Mufti Muneebur Rehman’s claim that the TLP had never demanded expulsion of the ambassador or closure of the French embassy.
Speaking to the media on Thursday, Mr Rashid said that when he met Mr Rizvi the TLP leader was adamant about the demand for expelling the French ambassador. “Mr Rizvi was convinced to withdraw this demand and was assured that the matter will be taken to parliament for a debate,” the minister said, adding that he would keep his word as he had signed the agreement with the TLP.
Without naming Mufti Muneeb, the minister said there was no truth in the claim made by a religious personality of Karachi that the French ambassador’s expulsion was never a TLP demand.
Responding to a question, Mr Rashid said the prime minister had stopped him from commenting on the subject and two ministers had been appointed to talk about it.
Punjab cabinet rushes to revoke TLP’s proscription
Mufti Muneeb had told a presser in Karachi that the federal ministers, who held talks with the TLP, had lied to the people about the party asking for the French ambassador’s expulsion, closure of the embassy, and severing ties with the European Union.
Proscription of TLP
The Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) government is rushing to revoke the TLP’s proscription status, as it decided to get the provincial cabinet’s nod through circulation after the cabinet meeting scheduled for Thursday was postponed.
Following recommendations of the federal government’s steering committee and Punjab cabinet committee on law, the provincial government sent a home department summary to cabinet members seeking their approval as early as possible. “If the opinion/approval will not be received from any minister in three days, it shall be deemed that the minister has accepted the recommendations contained in the summary,” the document read.
The sensitivity and importance of the issue can be gauged from the fact that, according to sources, all provincial ministers immediately conveyed their approval to the chief minister’s secretariat. The final approved summary is expected to be received by the implementation and coordination secretary on Friday (today).
A senior Punjab government official said the chief minister would now forward the provincial cabinet’s approval to revoke the TLP’s proscription to the federal government for a final go-ahead. “The federal cabinet will approve the revocation and the interior ministry will eventually notify it,” the official added.
While some 2,100 TLP activists have been released from police custody after the federal government-TLP agreement, contents of which are still being kept classified, the revocation of the group’s proscribed status will automatically remove around 8,000 TLP activists from the Fourth Schedule.
The official told Dawn the government would also be required to unblock the activists’ identity cards, bank accounts and mobile phone numbers. The move will also lead to the release of TLP chief Saad Rizvi -- the main objective of the government-TLP deal.
Meanwhile, the federal government steering committee convener and minister of state, Ali Mohammad Khan, called on Chief Minister Usman Buzdar at his office later in the day and discussed matters related to the TLP as well as the prevailing law and order situation. Committee members Punjab Law Minister Basharat Raja, the additional chief secretary (home) as well as the chief secretary and principal secretary to the CM were present in the meeting.
The meeting was told that around 2,100 TLP activists had been released so far, while the names of 48 activists of the group had been removed from the Fourth Schedule, who had applied for it. The CM was also told that all those booked and detained under various sections had been asked to seek relief from the courts and assured that the government would not resist the move. “The government is, however, still deliberating whether it can release the TLP activists who are currently under investigation,” a source in the meeting told Dawn.
The meeting participants offered prayers for the police martyrs whom Mr Buzdar called the collective pride of society, who sacrificed their lives in the line of duty. “The martyred policemen’s heirs will not be left alone as the martyrs are our heroes,” Mr Buzdar remarked.
He said the government had kept national interest supreme and everyone would have to lend a helping hand in making Pakistan a bastion of peace and harmony in the region. The CM said serious issues had been resolved by following the principles of prudence, statesmanship and maturity. Regrettably, he went on to say, the opposition tried to politicise (an issue of) national interest and its point-scoring was condemnable.
Published in Dawn, November 5th, 2021