News Analysis |
Tehreek-e-Labbaik Ya Rasool Allah (TYLRA) chief Khadim Hussain Rizvi recently announced that his party will contest in the upcoming 2018 general elections. He made the announcement at a chehlum ceremony in Liaquat Bagh Rawalpindi. The ceremony was held to honor people who lost their lives in the Faizabad sit-in and titled as the Tajdar-e-Nabuwat Conference.
People from all over the country travelled to attend the conference. Commemorating the people who died in Faizabad, Rizvi said that they had proved that they are willing to lay down their lives over the blasphemy issue, and while only six lives were lost in Faizabad, they are willing to sacrifice millions for this issue. He argued that they wanted peace but they would not remain silent on the blasphemy issue.
TYLRA should not be underestimated as a political contender as it has proved that it can rise as a new religious political force in Pakistan.
Rizvi announced a 12-point manifesto of his party for the upcoming elections, which included points relating to health, security, education and others. He expressed his wish to implement Sharia law in the country and promise to eradicate all un-Islamic vices from society, and interest from the financial system.
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Khadim Hussain Rizvi rose to prominence on the national level when his party TYLRA blocked the main artery to Islamabad in November 2017 for over three weeks. Rizvi led the sit-in, demanding the government to take action against the people responsible for an immediately withdrawn amendment that omitted a clause in the oath statement relating to the finality of prophethood.
The government insisted that it was a clerical mistake and apologized for it, but the protesters claimed that the omission was deliberate. Law Minister Zahid Hamid had to resign in the aftermath of the protest and a one sided deal was signed between the government and Rizvi, in which the government accepted its mistake and promised to file no case against the protesters.
Khadim Hussain Rizvi has tapped into that section of Pakistani society that has long remained dormant. He has targeted the lower middle and working class.
This whole saga was testimony of the strength that Khadim Rizvi and his party possess. Barelvi politics in Pakistan has made a comeback in the shape of Khadim Hussain Rizvi. He became politically active back in 2011 when a police officer Mumtaz Qadri assassinated the governor of Punjab Salman Taseer. While the murder received condemnation from a huge section of society, Rizvi supported the murder by accusing Taseer of calling blasphemy law a ‘black law’.
He was an employee of the Punjab Auqaaf Department but was fired for his views. Rizvi travelled the whole length of the country to preach his views and advocated the release of Mumtaz Qadri. In March 2016, after the hanging of Mumtaz Qadri, Rizvi led a long march to D-chowk Islamabad where he vowed to counter the ruling party PML-N at every forum. TLYRA was registered in the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) after the long march.
This whole saga was testimony of the strength that Khadim Rizvi and his party possess. Barelvi politics in Pakistan has made a comeback in the shape of Khadim Hussain Rizvi.
Rizvi’s party has contested for by-elections in the past and achieved reasonable success. In the NA-4 Peshawar election, his candidate managed to secure 9,935 votes which were higher than the 7,668 votes obtained by the Jamat-i-Islami (JI) candidate. It was a huge success considering that JI has been a ruling party in the province. TLYRA contested its second election in NA-120, Lahore, the former constituency of Nawaz Sharif. Shekh Azher Rizvi of the TLYRA managed to secure 7,130 votes, which were higher than the votes of PPP and JI, standing at the third position behind PTI and PML-N. Rizvi’s party has shown a lot of potential in both these elections.
Khadim Hussain Rizvi has tapped into that section of Pakistani society that has long remained dormant. He has targeted the lower middle and working class. Contrary to other political leaders, he has made a name for himself from nothing and the cause that he stands for has strong support in all sections of the society. TYLRA should not be underestimated as a political contender as it has proved that it can rise as a new religious political force in Pakistan.