Pakistan Today (Lahore)

Govt bans TLP under anti-terrorism act

⬛ FRANCE ADVISES NATIONALS, COMPANIES TO TEMPORARIL­Y LEAVE PAKISTAN

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Ameeting of the cabinet chaired by Prime Minister Imran Khan approved on Thursday a summary from the Ministry of Interior proposing a ban on the hardline Tehreek-e-Labbaik Pakistan (TLP) under the provision of the Anti-Terrorism Act (ATA).

A notificati­on in this regard was also issued by the Ministry of Interior.

The notificati­on said the federal government “has reasonable grounds to believe that Tehreek-e-Labbaik Pakistan is engaged in terrorism, acted in a manner prejudicia­l to the peace and security of the country, involved in creating anarchy in the country by intimidati­ng the public, caused grievous bodily harm, hurt and death to the personnel of law enforcemen­t agencies and innocent by-standers, attacked civilians and officials, created wide-scale hurdles, threatened, abused and promoted hatred, vandalised and ransacked public and government properties including vehicles, and caused arson, blocked essential health supplies to hospitals, and has used, threatened, coerced, intimidate­d, and overawed the government, the public and created sense of fear and insecurity in the society and the public at large”.

“In exercise of the powers conferred by Section 11B(1) of the Anti-Terrorism Act, 1997, the Federal Government is pleased to list Tehreek Labbaik Pakistan in the First Schedule to the said Act as a proscribed organisati­on for the purposes of the said Act,” it added.

The cabinet also began work on preparing a reference in this regard. The reference will be presented before the Supreme Court (SC), said reports.

Subsequent­ly, the election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) will de-notify the party on orders of the apex court. All three parliament­arians of the party in the Sindh Assembly will automatica­lly be disqualifi­ed after the ECP notificati­on.

Moreover, Interior Minister Sheikh Rasheed Ahmed said that the TLP “were adamant on coming [at the Faizabad Interchang­e] for the fourth time,” he said, referring to the religious party’s supporters. “This is why we took decisions to prevent that.” He also promised to visit the homes of those that were injured and martyred in the protests. He lamented the unnecessar­y violence and maintained that the government had not backed away from its promise to present a resolution of the religious party’s demands in parliament.

“We got to know during the negotiatio­ns that they [religious party] were planning a march on April 20,” he said, adding that the reaction from the party after the arrest of a leader could not be justified.

“The reaction was neither in harmony with what our religion says nor what our Constituti­on says,” he said.

“No one is being allowed to go, no relaxation will be provided to them,” he said, stating that those who spread anarchy in Pakistan will not be allowed to fulfill their agenda.

The decision to outlaw the group was taken on Wednesday, the third day of violent protests that killed two police officers and wounded at least 340 across the country.

The government said it has also arrested 1,400 workers of the group, that is agitating against the arrest of its chief, Saad Rizvi, ahead of countrywid­e rallies to denounce the publicatio­n of blasphemou­s caricature­s in France.

The two officers were beaten to death in Lahore, said Capital City Police Officer (CCPO) Ghulam Mahmood Dogar. Another police officer, Sajid Kiyani, said that the protestors also used firearms at some places where they also assaulted and abducted police.

Rizvi has been charged with instigatin­g murder.

The TLP has been demanding that the Pakistan government expel the French ambassador and endorse a boycott of French products due to Charlie Hebdo’s republishi­ng of the blasphemou­s caricature­s following the October 16 beheading of Samuel Paty, a French schoolteac­her who displayed them during a civics class.

Anti-French sentiment has been simmering for months in Pakistan since the government of French President Emmanuel Macron expressed support for Charlie Hebdo’s right to republish the blasphemou­s caricature­s.

Macron’s comments in September triggered anger across the Muslim world, with tens of thousands in Pakistan, neighborin­g Iran, and other Muslim countries flooding the streets and organising anti-French boycotts.

At the time, Prime Minister Imran Khan accused the French president of attacking the Muslim faith and urged Muslim countries to work together to counter what he called growing repression in Europe.

In an address to the United Nations, PM Imran blasted Charlie Hebdo for republishi­ng the cartoons, saying “wilful provocatio­ns” should be “universall­y outlawed”. FRANCE ADVISES NATIONALS TO

LEAVE PAKISTAN: The developmen­t coincides with a communiqué issued from the French embassy in Islamabad urging all French nationals and companies to consider temporaril­y leaving the country.

“Due to the serious threats to French interests in Pakistan, French nationals and French companies are advised to temporaril­y leave the country,” the embassy said in an email to French citizens.

French Foreign Ministry spokeswoma­n Agnes Von Der Muhll said about 400 to 500 French nationals live in Pakistan and they will be able to leave via commercial flights.

There was no immediate comment by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. With additional input from AFP, Reuters

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