ISLAMABAD, (APP): The Federal Cabinet on Wednesday unanimously agreed to tackle the proscribed Tehreek-i-Labbaik Pakistan (TLP) firmly and not to be blackmailed by the outfit on different pretexts.
The cabinet members who deliberated on the repeated calls for long marches on to Islamabad, grinding to a halt the entire country by setting up road blockades every few months, expressed the belief that the writ of the State must not be challenged.
A high-level meeting earlier on Tuesday chaired by Prime Minister Imran Khan and attended by the Chief of Army Staff, Director General Inter-Services Intelligence, Director General of Military Operations, Chief Secretaries and Inspector Generals of Police of provinces also expressed concern over the radicalization and militant tendencies of the TLP.
There has also been a strong reaction from the public who have borne the brunt of the lawlessness created by the TLP by blocking roads, disrupting businesses, and damaging private and public property, and that too on the pretext of Islam.
“On Tuesday, a clear policy decision was taken in a meeting, which was held under the chairmanship of Prime Minister Imran Khan and attended by the Pakistan Army, Intelligence Agencies and all the concerned authorities, that the proscribed Tehreek-e-Labaik will be treated as a militant group,” Minister for Information and Broadcasting Chaudhry Fawad Hussain said while addressing a post-cabinet briefing.
Fawad said Pakistan had defeated terrorist organizations like Al-Qaida in the past.
“Therefore, make no mistake in considering Pakistan a weak state. Whosoever has committed the mistake of perceiving Pakistan as a weak state, they regretted,” he said.
Interior Minister Sheikh Rashid Ahmed earlier at a press conference again urged the group to end their protest said that Rangers were being called in for 60 days in Punjab to maintain law and order.
His remarks came after reports of violent clashes between the protesters and the police near Sadhoke in Gujranwala district in which at least four policemen were martyred and over 250 injured. The number of police personnel killed by the violent mob has risen to five in the past week. Earlier two police constables were killed when they were attacked in Lahore. In the last protest of the TLP, six policemen were killed and over 700 injured, while public and private property worth millions was destroyed.
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A video clip shared on the internet showed several police vehicles smashed by the TLP protesters.
The TLP in its sixth protest has been demanding the release of its leader Saad Rizvi, the expulsion of the French ambassador from Pakistan over the publication of blasphemous caricatures in the country. It also demanded cutting off all ties with the country. However, the government has made it clear that Pakistan cannot remain in isolation.
Of the almost two billion Muslim population in 57 countries, none had severed ties nor any such violent protests, where the marchers killed or destroyed the property of fellow Muslims have been witnessed.
Images on social media showed scores of badly beaten and injured police constables lying on the ground. Police said the TLP activists were armed with automatic weapons, including AK-47 rifles, and opened fire on security forces who were trying to control the protest march towards Islamabad.
Inspector General of Punjab Police (IGP) Rao Sardar Ali in a press conference in Lahore said it was a matter of serious concern that violent protesters of the banned Tehreek-i-Labbaik Pakistan were armed with weapons and fire on police.
“The TLP is a proscribed organization and its armed men fired straight shots at police besides carrying out violent attacks.”
He said four police personnel were martyred and 263 injured.
According to security sources, the ongoing TLP protest was pursuing a political agenda but was exploiting religious sentiments of the people to provoke and use them to create chaos. The issue of funding for the proscribed organization is also being probed and linkages with foreign elements were being looked into.
They also pointed that it was also for the first time that an Eid Milad un Nabi (PBUH) procession was turned into a protest, a sit-in, and finally into a violent long march.
The security experts believed that under the given economic and security challenges the country was facing, any such lawlessness could have serious consequences and under no circumstances the State should allow such uncalled-for protests.
They also pointed that all the policemen brutally attacked, killed, and seriously injured by the TLP mobs were all Muslims and cited from Surah Maida; “whoever kills a soul unless for a soul or for corruption [done] in the land – it is as if he had slain mankind entirely. And whoever saves one3 – it is as if he had saved mankind entirely.”
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