November 1st, 2021
By Hamid Riaz and Asra Haque
On Sunday, October 31, the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) announced that they had successfully reached an agreement with the currently proscribed outfit the Tehreek-e-Labbaik Pakistan (TLP) following a round of negotiations with the aid of the country’s top ulema.
At the Sunday media presser, however, the terms of the agreement were not revealed with Mufti Muneeb-ur-Rehman, who was among those clerics appointed by the government to conduct the talks, stating that the details will come to light in the coming days. Following this announcement, local authorities have begun removing blockades, restoring movement on roads, and reinstating cellular services except in Wazirabad where around seven to eight thousand protestors armed with sticks are currently camping out.
This ongoing sit-in will not disperse until the release of the organization’s supremo Saad Rizvi, who is expected to walk free within the week. Meanwhile, TLP leaders Shafique Amini and Zahiruddin and scores of the organization’s workers that have not been charged for serious offences were promptly released per our sources. As for those organization members who are being held for serious offences, they will have to approach the courts for relief.
Sources further told Voicepk.net that the currently banned outfit will be removed from the 4th Schedule under the Anti-Terrorism Act (ATA) 1997, effectively reinstating its mainstream status.
However, there is no word as of yet on the status of the French Ambassador to Pakistan, whose immediate expulsion from the country was one of the primary demands of the proscribed organization following French President Emmanuel Macron’s defense of caricatures of the Prophet Muhammad published by the Charlie Hebdo magazine. The previous French Ambassador, Marc Barety, was transferred to Cairo, Egypt last month. Pakistan currently has no Ambassador to France in its embassy in Paris.
Furthermore, the government has to detail the terms under which accountability and justice will be ensured for families of law enforcement personnel and TLP activists reportedly killed in clashes since October 21. So far, at least six policemen and allegedly 18 to 19 TLP workers were killed in these recent riots. Police officials had previously expressed their disappointment with the PTI government for continuously letting the TLP off the hook at the cost of their lives and health.
The recent round of TLP protests and violence began on October 19, Eid Milad-un-Nabi, when the Lahore High Court ordered the release of the organization’s head Saad Rizvi, which was immediately challenged in the Supreme Court by the PTI government. In protests, organization workers staged demonstrations near the Rehmat-ul-Alimeen mosque on Multan Road, Lahore for several days before announcing a long march to Islamabad.
As a result of bloody clashes between the TLP and police forces near Government Muhammadan Anglo Oriental (M.A.O) College in Lahore, Shahdara and Sadokhi, Punjab’s home department ordered the deployment of paramilitary Rangers in Lahore, Rawalpindi, Jhelum, Sheikhupura, Gujranwala, Chakwal, Gujrat and Faisalabad districts on October 27. Negotiations finally bore fruit after the advancing TLP reached Wazirabad where workers, reportedly satisfied with the terms of the agreement, will not be proceeding to Islamabad until further notice.
However, political leaders and activists have called upon the PTI to reveal the details of the agreement so that it can be made clear how far the government is willing to capitulate to and appease the currently banned organization.