860 TLP activists released after agreement with Pak's Imran Khan government: Official 

The TLP, established in 2015, started its protest to force the government to free Rizvi and expel the French ambassador as a protest against publishing blasphemous cartoons in France last year.

Published: 02nd November 2021 09:29 PM  |   Last Updated: 02nd November 2021 09:29 PM   |  A+A-

Pakistan PM Imran Khan

Pakistan PM Imran Khan (Photo | AP)


LAHORE: As many as 860 activists of the radical Islamic party Tehreek-i-Labbaik Pakistan (TLP) were set free on Tuesday, November 2, 2021, under a secret deal between the Pakistan government and the banned group following days of violent protests demanding the release of their leader and expulsion of the French envoy over blasphemous cartoons.

The Pakistan government and the TLP reached an agreement on Sunday after lengthy negotiations following days of violent protests by the outfit's members demanding release of their party chief Saad Rizvi and expulsion of the French ambassador.

"Some 860 TLP workers were freed on Tuesday. They were detained under section 3 of MPO (maintenance of public order). No case was registered against them," according to a statement issued by the Punjab Home Department.

The TLP, which was established in 2015, started its protest to force the government to free Rizvi and expel the French ambassador as a protest against publishing blasphemous cartoons in France last year.

TLP's founder late Khadim Rizvi's son Saad Rizvi has been detained by the Punjab government since April last under the maintenance of 'public order' (MPO) following the party's protest against the blasphemous caricatures published in France and its demand that the French ambassador be sent back and import of goods from that country be banned.

On Tuesday after 860 activists of TLP were released, the group said still hundreds of its workers are detained and they won't end their protest until they are released too.

"We will not leave the protest till the government releases all our detained workers and leaders including the party chief Saad Hussain Rizvi," the TLP said in a statement.

The government last week had freed TLP 350 activists.

The TLP has made it clear that it would not end the protest and at the same time doors for talks with the government are open.

Mufti Muneebur Rehman, a top cleric of Sunni sect, who was part of the delegation from TLP that inked an agreement with the government on Sunday, declared that the TLP sit-in at Wazirabad, some 150 kms from Lahore, would continue till the release of Saad Rizvi.

"In case any further arrests of the party's workers or leaders are made, the agreement with the government will stand cancelled. After the agreement, the TLP leadership asked its over 10,000 workers to leave the main GT Road and shift their sit-in to a nearby park. If the government appears non-serious with regard to the agreement, it will have to face a more forceful protest movement," Muneeb warned.

Although the Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf government has kept its agreement with the TLP secret, it is learnt, the government assured the TLP leadership that it will unfreeze the accounts and assets of it and also lift ban on it.

On Tuesday another policeman was found murdered at Wazirababad.

Police said he died of the torture of TLP protesters.

The death toll has risen to 21--11 TLP workers and 10 policemen - since the clashes broke out between the TLP and police about three weeks ago.

According to the Punjab police, a total 520 policemen were injured by the violent TLP workers in Lahore and two other security points on the GT Road on their way to Gujranwala.

Terming the agreement between the government and the proscribed Tehreek-i-Labbaik Pakistan (TLP) a "surrender by the state", the opposition Pakistan Peoples' Party (PPP) has asked PM Khan to make the deal public and present it before parliament.

PPP Senators Sherry Rehman and Mustafa Nawaz Khokhar questioned the logic behind keeping the 'deal secret' and stated that the people of Pakistan and their elected representatives had every right to know the details and the contents of the agreement that had been signed in the darkness of night.


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