Pakistan Releases Hundreds of Members of the Banned TLP Group

© REUTERS / Akhtar SoomroProtesters chant slogans against the satirical French weekly newspaper Charlie Hebdo
Protesters chant slogans against the satirical French weekly newspaper Charlie Hebdo - Sputnik International, 1920, 02.11.2021
Alongside demands for the expulsion of the French envoy from Islamabad, the radical Islamist group Tehreek-e-Labbaik Pakistan (TLP), has been pressing for the release of its leader, Saad Rizvi, and others. At least five policemen were killed and scores injured in last week's clashes with TLP workers during a weeklong protest march.
Implementing a secretive agreement that was reached with protestors on Sunday to end their march to Islamabad, Pakistan's Punjab Province has released at least 860 workers of the Tehreek-i-Labbaik Pakistan (TLP) on Tuesday. Details of the agreement have not been made public by the government.
Dawn News reported on Tuesday that government officials had released workers who had been earlier arrested who are not facing formal criminal charges.
The Punjab government has also agreed to withdraw its appeal filed against the release of TLP leader Saad Rizvi in the Lahore High Court. Since April, Rizvi has been detained by the Punjab government after the TLP was declared a proscribed group under an anti-terror law.
Last week, Pakistan's National Security Advisor Moeed W. Yusuf vowed that government would not "allow armed militias" in the country. Warning the workers of the banned Islamist outfit, Yusuf said that the group "has crossed the red line and exhausted the state's patience."
The TLP has been holding protests at regular intervals over Emmanuel Macron's refusal last year to outlaw caricatures of Islam's key religious figure, Mohammed.
The TLP has demanded the closure of the French Embassy in Islamabad since November 2020 after French President Emmanuel Macron defended the publication of caricatures of the religious figure by a satirical newspaper, Charlie Hebdo, and pledged to fight “Islamist separatism.” Responding to fundamentalist violence that followed after publication of the caricature, Macron said: “We know what we have to do...Our fellow citizens are looking for action, and the action is there and we’ll intensify it.”
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