Pakistan, which is already in the grip of a deadly third wave of the coronavirus with a shortage of vaccines; was echoed with the sounds of thousands of angry protestors who rallied against the arrest of Saad Hussain Rizvi, the leader of hardline political party Tehreek-e-Labbaik Pakistan (TLP).
Some lost their lives during the violent clashes between the enraged TLP supporters and law enforcement agencies whereas several others injured. The country-wide protests that resulted in the Heavy Street fighting added more misery after critical oxygen supplies for COVID-19 patients were disrupted.
How Protests Started?
All started when the TLP leader Saad Hussain Rizvi was taken into custody in Lahore hours after calling for an April 20 march on the Federal Capital to demand the expulsion of the French ambassador. TLP naib emir Syed Zaheerul Hassan Shah said that the government “completely deviated from” the agreement it had reached with the TLP regarding Namoos-i-Risalat.
What TLP Wants?
The deadline by TLP concerns its demands from October last year, a history teacher who had shown blasphemous sketches of Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) in class was decapitated and his assailant shot dead by French police as they tried to arrest him.
Following the killing, President of France Emmanuel Macron pledged not to “give up cartoons” depicting Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him). Prime Imran Khan as well as other leaders of Muslim countries had denounced the French premier’s comments while countrywide protests were held calling for boycott of French products. Imran Khan after the incident and till date, has voiced against the French move on the international forums.
According to the TLP, the present government expressed its inability to implement the agreement and wanted the TLP leadership to stop protesting.
How TLP managed to Paralyze Pakistan within hours?
TLP, which managed to paralyze the whole country within few hours after the arrest of its Chief, was founded by cleric Khadim Hussain Rizvi. The party came into existence after the hanging of Mumtaz Qadri, who assassinated Salmaan Taseer, the Governor of Punjab, for opposing the blasphemy laws and subsequently rose to fame. During the assassination of the Governor, Rizvi was serving as an auqaf official in the Punjab government. Rizvi had justified the assassination on the pretext that Taseer had termed the blasphemy law as a “black law”. He was served warning notices to cease and desist from spreading his views in favour of blasphemy laws but his refusal to do so led to his removal from public service.
TLP has agitated for several years over the issue of perceived blasphemy, holding mass demonstrations across the country calling for all “blasphemers” to be killed.
The party rose to further prominence after the country’s 2018 general election, when it secured the fourth-highest share of the popular vote for parliamentary seats.
The party only secured two provincial assembly seats in the southern province of Sindh in that election, but saw its candidates score higher than many more established parties in contests across the country.
Who is Saad Hussain Rizvi?
Saad Hussain Rizvi succeeded his father Khadim Hussain Rizvi as head of the TLP after the latter died of natural causes suddenly in November.`
Rizvi’s supporters have previously held rallies in Pakistan to pressure the government not to repeal the country’s controversial blasphemy laws.