Pakistan’s government has formally banned the Tehreek-i-Labbaik Pakistan (TLP), whose supporters staged three days of violent protests across the country this week after the arrest of their leader.
A notification declaring TLP as a proscribed organisation was issued by the Ministry of Interior shortly after the federal cabinet approved a summary to ban the party on Thursday.
The notification said the federal government “has reasonable grounds to believe that Tehreek Labbaik Pakistan is engaged in terrorism, acted in a manner prejudicial to the peace and security of the country, involved in creating anarchy in the country by intimidating the public, caused grievous bodily harm, hurt and death to the personnel of Law Enforcement Agencies and innocent by-standers, attacked civilians and officials, created wide-scale hurdles, threatened, abused and promoted hatred, vandalised and ransacked public and government properties including vehicles and caused arson, blocked essential health supplies to hospitals, and has used, threatened, coerced, intimidated, and overawed the government [and] the public and created sense of fear and insecurity in the society and the public at large”.
“Therefore, in exercise of the powers conferred by Section 11B(1) of the Anti-Terrorism Act, 1997, the Federal Government is pleased to list Tehreek Labbaik Pakistan in the First Schedule to the said Act as a proscribed organisation for the purposes of the said Act,” it added.
Addressing a press conference in the capital Islamabad , Interior Minister Sheikh Rashid announced that the government would also take measures for TLP’s dissolution, saying a separate summary will be moved in the cabinet in this regard on Friday. He said after the summary’s approval in the next two to three days, a reference will be filed in the Supreme Court for the party’s dissolution.
The minister said the government had “tried its best” to resolve matters through negotiations but TLP’s “intentions were very horrifying. They did not want to step back from their agenda for April 20 at any cost.”
Meanwhil,e the French embassy in Pakistan on Thursday advised all French nationals and companies to temporarily leave the country, after violent anti-France protests paralysed large parts of the country this week, English newspaper, Daily Dawn reported.
“Due to the serious threats to French interests in Pakistan, French nationals and French companies are advised to temporarily leave the country,” the embassy said in an email to French citizens.
“The departures will be carried out by existing commercial airlines.”
Later in the day, Pakistan’s Foreign Office spokesperson Zahid Hafeez Chaudhri said the government was “aware of the advice which appears to be based on [the embassy’s] own assessment of the situation”.
He said the government, on its part, was taking “enhanced measures for the maintenance of law and order and preventing any damage to life and property”.
Anti-French sentiment has been simmering for months in Pakistan since the government of President Emmanuel Macron expressed support for a magazine’s right to republish blasphemous caricatures.