The move came after protests from Tehreek-e-Labbaik Pakistan demanding the expulsion of the French envoy and leading to the deaths of two police officers.
Islamabad, Pakistan – The Pakistani government will seek to ban the far-right Tehreek-e-Labbaik Pakistan (TLP), which has held violent protests across the country for days, killing at least two police officers, the country’s interior minister said.
The TLP protests continued across the country on Wednesday. Interior Minister Sheikh Rasheed confirmed that at least two police officers had been killed and more than 340 injured by protesters in the past 48 hours.
“Today we decided to ban TLP and this file will be submitted to the cabinet for approval from today,” Rasheed said at a press conference in the capital, Islamabad.
In a later tweet, he said the ban would be enacted under Pakistani anti-terrorism legislation.
Rasheed said protesters kidnapped police officers in several areas during the demonstrations, but all law enforcement personnel have now been recovered.
The TLP, a religious group that was founded by the Muslim fire chief Khadim Hussain Rizvi, has made the subject of perceived “blasphemy” its rallying cry and has been campaigning for the expulsion of the French ambassador and a ban on all French goods because of statements dated since November French President Emmanuel Macron last year.
A large-scale protest that blocked a main road into the capital, Islamabad in November, after reaching an agreement with the government to allow their demands to be taken into account, was canceled.
Police officers fire tear gas to disperse Tehreek-e-Labaik Pakistan (TLP) party supporters during a protest against their leader’s arrest in Peshawar [Fayaz Aziz/Reuters]
Arrest of the TLP boss
In February, she threatened further demonstrations if the government did not comply, but government negotiators were able to secure an extension of the deadline for action.
On Monday, however, before the new April 20, the police arrested the TLP leader Saad Rizvi, the son of party founder Khadim Hussain Rizvi, who died of natural causes shortly after the protests in November.
The arrest sparked days of unrest as thousands of TLP supporters launched protests and blocked roads and highways across the country. Video footage of protests in Karachi, Lahore and elsewhere showed violent clashes between police and protesters.
Interior Minister Rasheed accused TLP leaders of bad faith in negotiating a proposed parliamentary resolution on blasphemy with the government.
“Up to the last moment, our aim was to have a draft resolution ready to be presented to the assembly with their approval,” he said.
“But all of our efforts have failed and one of the main reasons for this [this] was that they wanted to come to Faizabad Chowk [to hold a protest] no matter what.”
Rasheed said the TLP was looking for a solution, “that would mean [diplomats from] European countries … would all have to leave the country ”.
“We want[ed] A design that will be flying the flag of the Prophet … but what? [the TLP] want[ed]This will create a perception in the world that we are an extremist country, ”he said.
Police operations to clean up remaining protests in parts of Lahore and Faisalabad continued on Wednesday.