Tue, 11 May 2021

Paris [France], April 16 (ANI): A Pakistani journalist living in exile here has raised questions over the Pakistan government's decision to ban Tehreek-e-Labbaik Pakistan (TLP), a hardline religious group with a massive following across Pakistan.

Reacting to the civil unrest in Pakistan after the arrest of TLP Chief Saad Hussain Rizvi in Lahore on Monday, Taha Siddiqui said these are "cosmetic steps" by Prime Minister Imran Khan's government to minimise international pressure to act against hard-line Islamist groups.

"The ban in Pakistan with regards to Tehreek-e-Labbaik Pakistan reflects a lot of cosmetic action that we have seen in the past. Most of the time these extremist organizations that have linkages to the state and as we do know that TLP was linked to the state, they get banned and when there is lot of public pressure, political pressure as we saw in this case and then after ones the pressure is released and relaxed then these organizations usually reincarnate with different names and we have seen with other kinds of extremist organizations like Lashkar-e-Taiba or Jaish-e-Mohammed and many more so", said Taha Siddiqui, who has been living in exile in Europe.

Interior Minister of Pakistan, Sheikh Rashid on Wednesday announced a ban on TLP, whose supporters and workers have been carrying out violent protests across the country since after the arrest of their chief.

Taha Siddiqui said: "The more important thing here is not these bans which are just for public sort of performative bans which show that the government is doing something and when it's not actually doing something. The actual thing would be that if the government or the military is really behind these kinds of groups, it actually stops sponsoring such groups and that will never happen because they might ban it today but they will not completely eradicate it".

"That's because they want to use it in the future because these groups eventually do serve the strategic purposes, the domestic purposes of the Pakistani military", he added.

Taha said, "We see them in the past for example with TLP, the Pakistan army used the TLP from political manipulation against the previous government in the elections to counter some of the political candidates and as this pro-blasphemy brigade as it is called to accuse people of blasphemy and threaten them to that measure. So, this mentality of using these religious proxies has to end and these bans are 'cosmetic steps' that will not produce any results".

TLP has been demanding the expulsion of the French ambassador from Pakistan. It is opposing publication of blasphemous caricatures in Charlie Hebdo magazine and remarks about Islam and terrorism by French President Emmanuel Macron.

TLP said the Imran Khan government has "turned back on its promise" to expel the French envoy. (ANI)

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