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TLP storm to hit capital with demands to sever ties with Netherlands


News Analysis |

Tehreek-e-Labbaik Pakistan (TLP) activists have set off for the twin-city from different parts of the country to protest against exhibition of blasphemous caricatures of Holy Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) arranged by Islamophobe Dutch MP, Geert Wilders.

Thousands of workers of the religious outfit embarked on journey demanding the PTI-coalition government to expel Netherlands’ ambassador to Pakistan and to sever the ties with the Netherlands government

The firebrand TLP Chief, Allama Khadim Rizvi is leading the march, after the government could not convince the hardline leadership of the TLP to cancel the march, during a meeting in Lahore. Federal Minister for Religious Affairs Noorul Haq Qadri and Punjab Law Minister Raja Basharat held negotiations with the TLP’s leadership but failed to convince them to stop the protest.

Government Efforts to Stop the Competition

Earlier, On August 27, Prime Minister Imran Khan bemoaned the absence of an international policy against the generation of blasphemous content and termed it a collective failure of the Muslim countries. The government has promised that Pakistan’s delegation, in the leadership of foreign minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi would raise the matter before the United Nations (UN) in the next month’s United Nations General Assembly session.

TLP chief Rizvi was termed corrupt and arrogant with superiors, in ISI report submitted in Supreme Court in wake of November demonstrations.

On August 20, Pakistan’s Foreign Office summoned the Charge D’Affaires of the Kingdom of the Netherlands and lodged the protest over the developments. Pakistan has shown deep concern over this deliberate and malicious attempt to defame Islam.

The FO has also directed Pakistan’s Permanent Representatives to the United Nations in New York and Geneva to take up the matter with UN Secretary-General, UN High Commissioner for Human Rights and other UN-related bodies.

Read more: TLP gears up to protest against Election Day rigging

Pakistan’s government has also sought an emergent meeting of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) to raise the issue. Earlier, on June 24, OIC had condemned the plan of the far-right politician under the slogan of freedom of speech.

Islamophobe, Geert Wilders

The anti-Islam, Dutch parliamentarian Greet Wilders triggered a massive uproar and anger among the Muslim community across the world, after his decision to hold a blasphemous caricatures contest in Netherlands.

The government has promised that Pakistan’s delegation, in the leadership of foreign minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi would raise the matter before the United Nations (UN) in the next month’s United Nations General Assembly session.

On June 12, Party for Freedom (PVV) chairman Geert Wilders announced the controversial November contest. He received the approval of Dutch Counter-terrorism Agency NCTV to hold the contest at party’s secure offices in Dutch Parliament. Wilder believes that freedom of speech in his country was under threat and critics of Islam were being silenced. He was convicted in 2016 of inciting racial discrimination.

The PVV—which has emerged as the second biggest party in the Dutch parliament after the March elections, had previously called to ban all Islamic symbols, mosques and the Quran from the country.

Read more: Khadim Rizvi, an opportunist?

TLP Defies Opposition to Conduct sit-ins

TLP leadership is adamant to stay on the roads until either the competition is called off or Pakistan severs the ties with the Dutch government and expels the envoy. The government, meanwhile, would provide the security to the protestors.

The FO has also directed Pakistan’s Permanent Representatives to the United Nations in New York and Geneva to take up the matter with UN Secretary-General, UN High Commissioner for Human Rights and other UN-related bodies.

TLP in its last demonstration in April, against PML-N government, had brought the life in Lahore to a standstill. In November last year, it blocked the twin city over the issue of a controversial amendment in Khatam-e-Nabuwat clauses in the Election Act, 2017. The subsequent delay in its reversal triggered the protest.

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Protest: TLP’s Political move Ahead of by Elections 

TLP has the ability to create major trouble for Khan’s government and the citizens commuting to the twin city—as it did last time in November 2017, virtually paralyzing the commute within the city. The government has engaged the relevant stakeholders at all the forums and is yet to make a breakthrough in this regard. TLP chief Rizvi was termed corrupt and arrogant with superiors, in ISI report submitted in Supreme Court in wake of November demonstrations.

He was virtually an unknown in the political circuits before Faizabad sit-in and his party managed to secure the third largest votes in Lahore in July 25 elections. Pakistan government is taking up matters at all possible levels, while, on the other hand, Rizvi has initiated another round of protest to gain political support ahead of October by-elections, cashing on the religious sentiments of the people.

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