TLP’s rally against blasphemous caricatures on its way to Islamabad
Tehreek-i-Labbaik Pakistan (TLP) on Wednesday started its march from Lahore to Islamabad — a form of protest against Dutch Freedom Party leader Geert Wilders’ announcement to hold a competition of blasphemous caricatures — as its demand for the expulsion of the Netherlands’ ambassador to Pakistan from the country remained unfulfilled. After the party’s supporters gathered at Data Darbar, the TLP rally kicked off its journey reciting na`at and chanting religious slogans. The group has crossed Kala Shah Kaku on the G T Road and is closing in on Gujranwala.Upon its arrival in Kamoke — some 25km from Gujranwala — the Khadim Hussain Rizvi-led rally was given a welcome by its supporters. Following the rally’s departure for Islamabad, Prime Minister Imran Khan formed a fourmember committee to resolve the matter. Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi, Federal Minister for Religious Affairs Noorul Haq, the Punjab Law Minister Raja and Information Minister Fawad Chaudhry comprise the committee, which is scheduled to meet the TLP leaders tomorrow. “The committee will brief the TLP leaders on measures against blasphemous caricatures,” said Qadri.“The emotions of all Muslims against blasphemous caricatures is the same,” Chaudhry, the information minister added. “A joint front is imperative against blasphemy.”He added: “We are trying to devise a joint strategy so that this issue can be dealt with effectively. We desire a peaceful resolution of this matter by the way of negotiations.” The religiopolitical party, meanwhile, has announced that its workers would “stay on the streets until either the publication of blasphemous cartoons in the Netherlands is stopped or the govt immediately ends diplomatic ties with the Dutch”.The blasphemous cartoon contest, scheduled for November, is being organised in the Netherlands by Wilders — a right-wing anti-Islam lawmaker who has been widely criticised for his activities. Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte has distanced his government from the controversial contest, clarifying that: “Wilders is not a member of the [Dutch] government. The competition is not a government initiative.” FM Qureshi discusses issue of `blasphemous caricatures’ with Dutch counterpart In a tweet on Wednesday, Foreign Office Spokesperson Dr Mohammad Faisal said that FM Qureshi spoke with his Dutch counterpart to discuss the issue of “blasphemous caricatures”. “The FM expressed concern on the announcement of [the] abominable and sacrilegious competition by Geert Wilders,” read the tweet, adding that the Dutch FM made it clear that his government was neither associated nor supporting the event.