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Why did ATC shelve the cases against Tehreek-i-Labbaik Pakistan’s Chief Khadim Rizvi

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News Analysis |

The Anti-terrorism court (ATC) has opted to shelve the cases lodged against Tehreek-i-Labbaik Pakistan (TLP) Chief Khadim Hussain Rizvi and others pertaining to the Faizabad sit-in after the prosecutor asked for the further investigation leading to case adjourned for an indefinite period.

Citing the reason, Police on Monday submitted an application where it informed the ATC that the police department was carrying out a fresh investigation, requesting the court to halt its proceedings until a final report was submitted by the department.

While explaining the reasons, the prosecutor told the court, it wants to investigate further and will perform a fresh probe into the facts related to this case. Resultantly, Judge Shahrukh Arjumand adjourned the proceedings until the indefinite period.

Khan ferociously criticized the cases lodged against him in ATC and termed them a politically motivated primarily aimed to take vengeance against Khan’s political struggle in the country.

Rizvi had started the second string of protests across the country after ATC ordered his arrest over the Faizabad sit-in case. He very nearly brought Punjab, again at the brink of complete shutdown after disrupting entry into Lahore. Moreover, key traffic intersections in Lahore, including the busy Thokar Niaz Beg was closed along with major toll plaza’s on GT road, Lahore-Multan motorway, Chichawatni bypass, Lahore-Sahiwal bypass, and Islamabad expressway.

After a subdued response from the government, Rizvi and his followers protested in front of Data Darbar, Lahore for 11-days and virtually brought the life Lahore on halt after his followers blocked the streets and roads across the city. Government and TLP were at loggerheads over the full implementation of the Faizabad Agreement.

Read more: Prosecution witnesses cross-examined in Daniyal Aziz contempt court case

Rizvi and his followers staged a demonstration against the government over the alleged involvement in a change to the Khatam-i-Nabuwwat oath, when it passed the Elections Act 2017. It demanded to unveil the fact-finding Raja Zafar-ul-Haq report.

After weeks of protest, which completely disrupted the life in twin-city, Islamabad Police’s bid to dismantle the protestors failed humiliatingly and sparked the violent protests across the country. Different local leaders of TLP and other religious parties taking part in the sit-in mobilized their workers across Pakistan to protest against the assault against the religious outfits in a confrontation with the law enforcement agencies. Army played a controversial mediator and finally, the Government, and TLP signed an agreement–which accepted all the demands put forth by the protesters.

Police on Monday submitted an application where it informed the ATC that the police department was carrying out a fresh investigation, requesting the court to halt its proceedings until a final report was submitted by the department.

According to this agreement, the Government agreed to fulfill the demands of the protestors. But, in fact, the Government neither published the Raja ZafarulHaq report nor waved off the ATC cases against TLP leadership. In Lahore, Rizvi ended the demonstrations after reaching an agreement with the Provincial Government which accepted his demand.

On March 19, the Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) in a report presented to the apex court, declared KhadimRizvi a ‘dishonest’ person who is capable of instigating youth. On April 04, 2018 an ATC declared Rizvi a proclaimed offender and issued non-bailable arrest warrants of Rizvi [after he failed to surrender within 30 days appear before the court], despite being served several notices.

Read more: Daniyal Aziz “scandalizing the court”

The timing of this negotiation is significant; the Government is in a spot of bother, after being surrounded by several controversies and scandals. Nawaz Sharif is disqualified for life, Shehbaz and many of his close aides in the bureaucracy are facing probes in National Accountability Bureau (NAB). Anti-graft watchdog is probing 56-companies of Punjab. Many legislators have deserted PML-N and process is apparently ongoing.  In such a tense environment, PML-N cannot afford Rizvi along with other religious outfits on roads disrupting law and order.

Different local leaders of TLP and other religious parties taking part in the sit-in mobilized their workers across Pakistan to protest against the assault against the religious outfits in a confrontation with the law enforcement agencies.

Moreover, PML-N doesn’t want to go against the religious outfits and deeply conservative voters, only a few months prior to elections. Earlier, suo moto was taken against Tallal Chaudhry and Daniyal Aziz for contemptuous speeches, but, Rizvi was spared.  Chief justice of Pakistan (CJP) Saqib Nisar struggled to keep consistency, which has put the question marks over his credibility.

Read more: SC issues contempt of court notices to Daniyal Aziz and Talal…

Why was such action not taken against Hussain Rizvi, who lambasted CJP during the Islamabad sit in? It is apparent that Khan and others who protested against the government are subjected to political vengeance. Khan ferociously criticized the cases lodged against him in ATC and termed them a politically motivated primarily aimed to take vengeance against Khan’s political struggle in the country.

But, in Rizvi’s case, this surrender first from the judiciary, and now from government apparently reflects the power of religious outfits in this country, where politicians face the brunt of the law, but religious leaders are spared.

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