ISLAMABAD (Nov 23, 2018): Firebrand cleric Khadim Hussain Rizvi who heads the Tehreek-i-Labbaik Pakistan (TLP) religio-political party has been taken into “protective custody” by police from Lahore days before his call for protest and sit-in at Liaquat Bagh in Rawalpindi on Sunday, November 25.
“Khadim Hussain Rizvi has been taken into protective custody by police and shifted to a guest house,” said minister of information Fawad Chaudhry in a tweet late Friday evening.
“The action was prompted by TLP’s refusal to withdraw its call for protest on November 25. It’s to safeguard public life, property and order.”
The arrest “has to do nothing with Asia Bibi case”, Chaudhry said. He said the TLP had insisted on coming to Rawalpindi “refusing [the government’s] proposal for alternative arrangements”.
The minister said the government “did it[s] best” to convince the party against convening for the protest, “but they refused every offer and started to provoke violence”.
“The TLP has become a continuous threat to the life and properties of the citizens and is doing politics under the guise of religion… the situation is fully under control, people should remain peaceful and fully cooperate with authorities,” he said.
“State is responsible to defend finality and respect of Holy Prophet PBUH. Law shall take its course and it cannot be left to individuals,” Chaudhry concluded.
The crackdown comes ahead of Rizvi’s call to party members to observe martyrs’ day on November 25. He had asked workers and supporters to gather at Faizabad in the federal capital.
According to media reports, a large-scale operation is currently underway against TLP leaders in several major cities.
Security has been beefed up across the country to thwart any untoward incident from happening. Heavy contingents of police and paramilitary forces have been deployed to protect all sensitive installations in all major cities.
The reports of the arrests come weeks after the TLP led three-day violent protests across the country against the acquittal of Aasia Bibi, a Christian woman whose blasphemy conviction was overturned by the Supreme Court at the end of last month.
The demonstrators during the protests had termed the chief justice “liable to be killed” and had called for a rebellion against the army chief “because he is a non-Muslim”.
This had led to Prime Minister Imran Khan issuing a stern warning to the agitators and telling them: “Do not clash with the state”.
“Do not take us [to a situation] where we are compelled to take [strict] action,” the prime minister had said in a televised speech.
Two days later, the TLP agreed to end the nationwide protest sit-ins after reaching an agreement with the federal and Punjab governments under which the latter agreed to initiate the legal process to put Aasia Bibi’s name on the Exit Control List (ECL) and refrain from objecting to review of the court judgement–a move legal experts say would be struck down by the court as per the law.
The TLP, in turn, had only offered an apology “if it hurt the sentiments of or inconvenienced anyone without reason”–the anti-state diatribe however left space for due process of law taking its own course and as huge damages were also caused to public properties.
The Supreme Court yesterday reserved its verdict on the suo motu case over TLP’s Faizabad sit-in in November 2017. The reserved verdict pertains to a variety of issues stemming from TLP’s infamous sit-in, including its party registration as well as its violent protests.