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Imran Khan bows to hardline Islamist party TLP yet again

TLP rally in Pakistan.

Once again, the Imran Khan government has surrendered to the hardliner extremist party, Tehreek-e-Labbaik Pakistan (TLP). On Sunday,  thousands of TLP  supporters were heading to Islamabad for the release of  jailed leader Hafiz Saad Rizvi. The Interior Minister of Pakistan Sheikh Rashid also announced that the government will also remove the party from the “banned” status. In lieu of that, the TLP has agreed to postpone the demand of expelling the French ambassador. Its call would be routed through the parliamentary resolution and other procedures.

“We have released 350 workers of TLP up till now. We are still waiting to open both sides of the road in Muridke as per the decision reached with the TLP,” The News reports Sheikh Rashid as saying.

Govt, TLP reach fresh agreement

Earlier the Imran Khan government had announced that there won't be any “deal” with the protesters who had taken out a long march from Lahore to Islamabad,  which turned violent on Saturday. In a knee jerk reaction, the government called the Pakistani spy agency Inter State Intelligence (ISI) for “help” again and finally bowed to the TLP pressure.

“Perhaps the people will say that the state has surrendered. But it is not the job of the state to use the force,” said the Interior Minister Rashid. He also admitted that his government has “failed” to act on the agreement signed with the group in November 2020.

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“Their objection that we had done nothing positive in the last six months was correct. It has been decided that we will withdraw cases against them by Tuesday or Wednesday,” said Rashid. According to agreement brokered by the ISI chief Faiz Hameed last year with the TLP leaders  after similar violent protests seeking expulsion of the French ambassador from Pakistan over the issue of the publication of “blasphemous “caricatures.

As of now, France is not represented by an ambassador in Pakistan. Instead, a senior diplomat heads the embassy.

The Imran Khan government had banned the TLP on April 15 after three days of countrywide violent protests by its activists after the arrest of their chief. The protest call had been given by the TLP leadership over the failure to implement an agreement which had demanded the expulsion of the French ambassador from Pakistan.

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Interestingly, the Imran Khan government’s own reports say that “TLP is engaged in terrorism, and has been acting in a manner prejudicial to the peace and security of the country.”

But contrary to this view Imran Khan says that, “They are political people and they have the third-highest vote bank in Punjab.”

In Pakistan, everyone knows that the TLP is the outfit that the ISI, under General Faiz Hameed, has used in favour or against sitting governments.

When Sheikh Rashid was asked about the involvement of Faiz Hameed in the “agreement” with the TLP, he said that he was still the DG ISI.