Was November 2020 TLP’s last hurrah?

TLP has been in the national political discourse of Pakistan since after the hanging of Mumtaz Qadri. It recently signed an agreement with the government to get Pakistan’s diplomatic ties with France suspended. Some analysts are of the view that TLP was fooled and it was the beginning of its end.

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Tehreek-i-Labbaik Pakistan (TLP) has once again signed an agreement with the government. Political analysts are of the view that this time the religiopolitical party signed an agreement, not from the position of strength. The agreement is being termed as a face-saving tactic demanded by the TLP.

The agreement says that the government will take a decision from the Parliament regarding the expulsion of the French ambassador within three months, will not appoint its ambassador to France, and release all the arrested workers of the TLP. The government will not register any case against the TLP leaders or workers even after it calls off the sit-in.

TLP leaders and followers celebrated it as their victory despite the fact that no official from the government side has confirmed a handwritten agreement. Sources in Islamabad claim that the government did not want to prolong the protest so an agreement has been signed which is unlikely to be followed. Contrary to what has been mentioned in the agreement, the government is planning to take strict action against the TLP leaders.

How TLP evolved from a pressure group to a religiopolitical party?

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 judgement 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.

The TLP organized a sit-in in Faizabad to protest against the government’s alleged involvement in modifying 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.

The Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) submitted a report to the SC during the days of sit in. Justice Mushir Alam and Justice Qazi Faez Isa were hearing the Suo Motu notice of the disturbance to public life due to the sit-in at Faizabad. In the report, the ISI told the SC that the sit-in was politically motivated and had political interests.

“The Tehreek Labbaik Ya Rasool Allah is determined to exploit the situation and gain political mileage to gain support for the next general elections,” said a six-page order issued by a two-judge bench consisting of Justice Mushir Alam and Justice Qazi Faez Isa.  “To keep the participants of the sit-in engaged and charged, the leadership of the protesters resorted to delivering provocative speeches,” the ISI report read.

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

Later on, a controversial judgement was issued by Justice Isa who ordered disciplinary action against the members of law enforcement agencies involved in negotiation. This publication termed the judgement as a clear manifestation of rigid textualism prevailing in the courts.

Rizvi is “Reportedly Corrupt”: Reports ISI

The ISI submitted a comprehensive report to the SC and declared Khadim Rizvi as “reportedly corrupt”. Rizvi has been also listed as being “arrogant” with his superiors, “harsh” with his subordinates, and “committed” to his cause. It has also been stated that Rizvi is “reportedly corrupt” particularly when it comes to financial matters. Moreover, it is also a fact, point out the report that he appears to be living within his means. The report further notes that he has shown an inclination towards misuse of power, the authorities, and resources.

End of TLP’s hurrah?

TLP’s basic ideology relies on the idea of Namoos e Risalat. Its political narrative forced it to go to Islamabad and demand immediate suspension of diplomatic ties with France, argue political commentators. The party, despite its unpopularity and inability of the leadership to mobilize its workers, headed to the federal capital because of its political survival.

Informed sources told GVS that the government and law enforcement agencies now planning to take a firm legal and administrative action against TLP. “The state needs to define its limits or what we call red lines. This is not fair to assume that a person with a bunch some religious fanatics can come to Islamabad and block the city,” an official told GVS.

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