ISLAMABAD: The government has lifted the ban on the Tehreek-i-Labbaik Pakistan (TLP) “in the larger national interest” and in line with the “secret agreement” it had signed with the group on October 31, following violent protests by the TLP to press for release of its chief Saad Rizvi.
The notification in this regard was issued by the Ministry of Interior on Sunday, a day before a meeting of the Parliamentary Committee on National Security to be held in the National Assembly in which the opposition members are expected to raise the matter.
According to the interior ministry, the notification has been issued at Punjab government’s request.
On Saturday the media had reported that Prime Minister Imran Khan had approved for his cabinet’s nod by circulation a summary seeking revocation of the ban on the TLP.
Saad likely to be released today; party activists refuse to end sit-in until his release
“In exercise of the powers conferred under sub-section (I) of Section 11U of the Anti-Terrorism Act, 1997 (as amended), the federal government is pleased to remove the name of the Tehreek-i-Labbaik Pakistan from the First Schedule of the said Act as proscribed organisation for the purpose of the said Act,” reads the notification.
Providing the background, the notification states that the TLP had been placed in the First Schedule as a proscribed organisation by the federal government on April 15 this year on the recommendation of Home Department of Punjab.
“Whereas, the provincial cabinet has considered the request of the organisation and in view of the assurance and commitment by the organisation, is of the opinion that said organisation shall abide by the Constitution and laws of the country and, therefore, keeping in view the larger national interest and long-term perspective to ensure that such incidents do not recur in future, the government of Punjab has proposed to the federal government to consider revoking of proscription of the TLP,” says the interior ministry’s notification while justifying the action.
The government’s agreement with then banned TLP had been announced by Mufti Munib-ur-Rehman at a news conference where Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi-led team of negotiators from the ruling party were also present.
Mufti Munib, who had facilitated the talks along with some other people in their individual capacity, had told the media that the agreement had the backing of the jailed TLP chief.
Mufti Umair Al-Azhari, Allama Ghulam Abbas Faizi and Hafiz Hafeez participated in the negotiations from the TLP side.
Under the agreement, a steering committee headed by Minister of State for Parliamentary Affairs Ali Mohammad Khan had also been formed to oversee implementation of the deal.
Refusing to share contents of the secret deal with the then banned outfit, Mufti Munib had said its details would be made public at an ‘appropriate time’. He had claimed that ‘positive’ results of the agreement would be visible to the nation next week or during the next 10 days.
According to the sources, besides Mufti Munib, Maulana Adil and Saylani Welfare Trust head Bashir Farooq Qadri, leading businessmen Aqeel Karim Dhedi and Haji Rafique Pardesi had been named as “guarantors” in the agreement.
After three days of clashes with the police in Lahore aimed at pressing the authorities to release the TLP chief, the TLP had started a long march to Islamabad on Oct 22. As many as seven police officials were martyred and scores of others from both sides received injuries in clashes in Lahore and Gujranwala as the marchers moved on the GT Road.
The TLP leadership on Oct 30 asked the protesters to wait at Wazirabad for further instructions when the two sides went into the negotiations. Since then, most of the TLP workers returned to their homes, but a sizeable number of them remained there, announcing that they would end the long march only after the release of their leader.
According to sources, the Punjab government had assured the TLP that it would release its chief on Monday (today), while a TLP spokesperson also confirmed to Dawn that the government would release him on Monday.
The spokesman said their workers still holding a sit-in did not want to leave Wazirabad without listening speech of the TLP chief. He said they were trying to convince the workers to end the sit-in but they demanded that Mr Rizvi come and address them. He said their senior leaders and ulema were also trying to convince them to end the sit-in and the issue would be sorted out soon.
Imran Gabol from Lahore also contributed to the report
Published in Dawn, November 8th, 2021