The Punjab government on Wednesday removed Tehreek-i-Labbaik Pakistan (TLP) chief Hafiz Saad Hussain Rizvi's name from the Fourth Schedule — a list of proscribed individuals who are suspected of terrorism or sectarianism under the Anti-Terrorism Act (ATA), 1997.
A notification issued by the Punjab Home Department dated November 10 stated that the "name of Hafiz Mohammad Saad, being Ameer of Tehreek-i-Labbaik Pakistan, a proscribed organisation, was listed in the 4th Schedule of Anti-Terrorism Act, 1997, under Section 11-E on the recommendations of District Intelligence Committee, Lahore."
It noted that the government had removed the TLP from the First Schedule of the Act as a proscribed organisation on Nov 7.
"Therefore, name of Hafiz Mohammad Saad is hereby deleted from the list of 4th Schedule of Anti-Terrorism Act, 1997, with immediate effect," it stated.
Police had arrested Rizvi on April 12 this year ahead of planned protests by the TLP. The next day, police registered a first information report (FIR) against the TLP chief under sections of the ATA.
His name was placed on the Fourth Schedule shortly after, on April 16.
The government had declared the TLP a proscribed outfit under the anti-terror law in April this year, after three days of violent protests by the group's activists across the country.
The matter of TLP's de-proscription again came under consideration following another days-long protest by the TLP, which started on Oct 20 in Lahore. The protest, which soon turned violent, was primarily launched to exert pressure on the Punjab government for the release of TLP chief Saad Rizvi, the son of its late founder Khadim Rizvi, and the expulsion of the French ambassador over blasphemous sketches of Holy Prophet Muhammad (PBUH).
The situation seemed to improve only after negotiations between the TLP and government started on Oct 30, with the members of the negotiating team from the government side claiming the next day that they had reached an "agreement" with the proscribed group but refused to divulge its details.
Sources had told Dawn the TLP was assured that the government would not pursue minor cases against the TLP leadership and workers, but the cases registered under the Anti-Terrorism Act would be decided by courts. It also assured the TLP leadership that it would unfreeze the accounts and assets of the proscribed outfit and take steps to lift the ban on it.
While some 2,100 TLP activists have been released from police custody after the federal government-TLP agreement, the revocation of the group's proscribed status automatically removed around 8,000 TLP activists from the Fourth Schedule.
Meanwhile, the government transferred the entire police high command of Lahore earlier this month in a massive reshuffle in the wake of their "mishandling of the Tehreek-i-Labbaik Pakistan's violent rally".
Several regional police officers (RPOs) and district police officers (DPOs) were also reshuffled in Punjab.