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Sunday, November 26, 2023

Khadim Rizvi’s son appointed as TLP’s new Ameer: One more case of hereditary politics?

Hafiz Saad Rizvi has been appointed as the new “Ameer” – leader of the party. The announcement led to an old debate in Pakistan; hereditary politics.

Allama Khadim Hussain Rizvi, chief of Tehreek-e-Labbaik Pakistan (TLP), has been in Lahore. A large number of his followers, political figures, religious leaders, and prominent scholars attended his funeral, reported local media. TLP’s new Ameer has also been nominated.

The funeral prayers were offered at the Minar-e-Pakistan. The 55-year-old clerk is survived by his wife, two sons, and three daughters.


According to the details, the funeral was led by late Khadim Hussain’s son Hafiz Saad Rizvi. The funeral scheduled to be held at 10 in the morning got delayed due to the huge gathering as the body was moved from his residence to the venue.

After the funeral, the Tehreek-e-Labbaik announced Rizvi’s son, Hafiz Saad Rizvi, as the new “Ameer” –  leader of the party. The announcement the  TLP’s new Ameer led to an old debate in Pakistan; hereditary politics.

Some analysts are of the view that the TLP was expected to have a leader other than Rizvi’s son. Notably, there are several senior ulemas within the party who were not considered for the post.

However, the trend is not unusual in Pakistan. The PML-N, PPP, and ANP are the parties rigidly following a hereditary mode of politics. Leadership role is always restricted to one particular party. Scholars and experts often hold these leaders responsible for the lack of democracy in the country.

The TLP was founded back in 2015. Over five years later, Khadim Rizvi’s party has evolved into a powerful entity that has the power to close cities and force the government to surrender.  Analysts believe that the Tehrik-e-Labbaik’s creation was intended as a pressure group to prevent the government from executing Mumtaz Qadri, who had been sentenced to death for killing former Punjab Governor Salmaan Taseer. The decision to hang Qadari was a politically wrong judgment as it led to the creation of an organized Barelvi group in the form of TLP.  There is a strong perception that the PML-N’s government intended to appease the European Union, western media, and civil society.

Read more: TLP’s existence under threat: Sedition case against Khadim Rizvi & Afzal Qadri

The TLP organized a sit-in in Faizabad to protest against the government’s alleged involvement in modifying the Khatm-e-Nabuwat [finality of Prophet-hood] clause in the Elections Bill 2017. The then law minister Zahid Hamid had to resign after the assurance that no Fatwa would be issued against him.

Keeping its public narrative in consideration, many in media and politics expected to have a leader beyond the Rizvi’s family.

Internal democracy in political parties in Pakistan

As the TLP’s new Ameer has been nominated, it is important to look at the track record of political parties in Pakistan: has there been internal democracy in political parties in the country?

In 2014, the Pakistan Institute of Legislative Development and Transparency (Pildat) issued a report about the level of democracy in political parties. The report listed the parties in descending order and gave them scores in percentage. At the top was Jamaat-i-Islami with a score of 56 percent followed by Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf at 49 percent, Awami National Party at 46 percent, Jamiat Ulema-i-Islam-Fazlur Rehman (JUI-F) and the National Party both got scores of 43 percent, Muttahida Qaumi Movement is at 42 percent, Pakistan People’s Party’s score is 34 percent and Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz comes in last with a score of 32 percent.

Again, in 2015, Pildat issued its report-2015 on internal democracy in major political parties with Jamaat-e-Islami (56 points) being the most democratic party, followed by the National Party (47 points) and Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf third with 44 points while Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz showed as the least democratic party with just 31 points.

Awami National Party was adjudged fourth in terms of internal democracy in its ranks with 40 points while PPP got 36 points and was placed on the fifth number, MQM and JUI-F got sixth position with 33 points each and the seventh position went to the PML-N.

The report pointed out that intra-party elections were mere formality in most cases, parties funding shrouded in vagueness while the Election Commission of Pakistan lacked the capacity to check compliance of the political parties with the law. It foresaw the upcoming intra-party election in PTI as a defining event for internal democracy in political parties.

Read More: TLP & Islamic principles: Some major contradictions – Khawaja Akbar

Pildat also noted that there was a lack of co-relation between internal democracy and the mass popularity of political parties.