The Pakistani government lifted the ban on the extremist group Tehreek-i-Labbaik Pakistan (TLP) in return for canceling recent anti-government protests that claimed the lives of more than 20 people, half of them police officers.
The TLP was declared a banned organization in April this year after fierce protests by the group to force the government to expel the French ambassador for blasphemous cartoons published in France.
The government, which recently struck a secret deal with the TLP, issued an official notification on Sunday to remove the outright Islamist party from the list of banned organizations after the TLP pledged to behave and obey the law in the future.
“In the exercise of the powers conferred under subsection (I) of section 11U of the Anti-terrorism Act 1997 (as amended), the Federal Government is pleased to withdraw the name of Tehreek-i-Labbaik Pakistan from the First Schedule of the said law as a banned organization for the purposes of the said law, ”reads the notification, which was seen by the PTI.
The TLP launched protests on October 18 from Lahore and announced it was marching on Islamabad to force the government to expel the French ambassador and release the leader of the formation Saad Rizvi.
At least 21 people, including 10 police officers, have lost their lives in fierce clashes between TLP workers and law enforcement in recent days.
After the bloody clashes, the group reached the city of Wazirabad on the Grand Trunk Road when a “secret deal” was reached with the government on October 31.
Although the deal was not disclosed, sources said it included a government commitment to lift the TLP ban that was imposed in April this year after similar violent protests.
The notification stated that the TLP was listed in Schedule 1 as a banned organization by the federal government on April 15 of this year on the recommendation of the Punjab’s interior ministry.
Prime Minister Imran Khan approved the revocation of the TLP ban on Saturday.
The government is also expected to release Rizvi to please the TLP and convince it to fire its hundreds of workers who are still sitting in Wazirabad and waiting for their leaders to decide whether to return home or restart the protest.
However, it is not clear whether the government made any commitment regarding the expulsion of the French ambassador which was the TLP’s main demand.
The government had already released more than 2,000 TLP activists before the ban was lifted, and the group would now be free to participate in all kinds of political activity.
However, this set a bad precedent and future governments would be vulnerable to extremist groups and their bullying.
The TLP was established in 2015 and has organized at least six protests over the years, mainly against the alleged desecration of the Prophet.
(This story was not edited by Devdiscourse staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)