Pakistan 'Won’t Allow Armed Militia' as TLP Stands Firm on Demand to Expel French Envoy

© REUTERS / MOHSIN RAZASupporters of the banned Islamist political party Tehrik-e-Labaik Pakistan (TLP) run amid the smoke of tear gas during a protest demanding the release of their leader and the expulsion of the French ambassador over cartoons depicting the Prophet Mohammed, in Lahore, Pakistan, October 23, 2021
Supporters of the banned Islamist political party Tehrik-e-Labaik Pakistan (TLP) run amid the smoke of tear gas during a protest demanding the release of their leader and the expulsion of the French ambassador over cartoons depicting the Prophet Mohammed, in Lahore, Pakistan, October 23, 2021 - Sputnik International, 1920, 28.10.2021
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Besides demanding the closure of the French embassy in Islamabad, the ultra-conservative Tehreek-e-Labbaik Pakistan (TLP) has been pressing for the release of its leader Saad Rizvi and for cases against TLP activists to be dropped.
Pakistan's national security adviser Moeed Yusuf on Thursday warned supporters of banned Islamist outfit Tehreek-e-Labbaik Pakistan (TLP) against challenging the “writ of the Pakistani state”, stating that the group “has crossed the red line and exhausted the state’s patience”.
In a series of tweets, Yusuf also vowed that the Pakistani government won’t “allow armed militias” of any sort in the country.
The stern warning by Prime Minister Imran Khan’s NSA comes a day after 15 people, including four policemen, were killed in clashes between the TLP and Pakistani security personnel near Gujranwala city in the province of Punjab. The policemen's deaths in the clashes were confirmed by Punjab’s chief Usman Buzdar and federal interior minister Sheikh Rashid but denied by the TLP.
According to reports, TLP supporters resumed their protest march to Islamabad after Wednesday’s deadly violence.
On Tuesday, the TLP's leadership announced that its supporters would march to Pakistan’s capital city Islamabad from Lahore after interior minister Rashid said that the government wouldn't accede to its key demand, namely expelling the French Ambassador.
After Rashid’s remarks, the TLP resumed its months' old street protest.
“Sheikh Rashid lied yesterday that matters have been resolved… let the entire nation see the malicious intent of the government," a statement from TLP leader Syed Sarwar Shah Saifi said on Wednesday.
The TLP has been lobbying the Pakistani government to expel the French envoy since November last year, when a French teacher Samuel Paty was beheaded by a radicalised Muslim after he showed his class caricatures of the prophet Mohammad. Paty had been teaching a lesson on freedom of expression and showed his pupils the cartoons which had appeared in 'Charlie Hebdo', leading to a massacre at the satirical magazine.
The portrait of slain teacher Samuel Paty with a black ribbon is displayed Tuesday, Oct.20, 2020 on the steps of the National Assembly in Paris. - Sputnik International, 1920, 16.10.2021
French Prime Minister Pays Tribute to Slain Teacher Samuel Paty
France’s President Emmanuel Macron staunchly defended his country’s liberal standards, offending Muslims across the world, including in Pakistan.
The TLP staged massive demonstrations in Pakistan in November, hitting the streets again in April this year. During the second round of protests, the group was outlawed by Prime Minister Imran Khan’s government, which also put Rizvi behind bars to maintain “public order”.
However, at the same time, the group’s demand that the French envoy be expelled was actively considered in the country’s National Assembly, media reports attest.
TLP adheres to the ultra-conservative Barelvi philosophy in Islam, as do at least 50 percent of Pakistan’s population. The TLP shot to fame in 2016, when it staged massive demonstrations over the execution of Mumtaz Qadri.
Qadri, a former bodyguard of Punjab governor Salman Taseer, assassinated his boss for defending a Christian woman accused of committing blasphemy against the prophet Mohammad.
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