Pakistan govt decides to ban radical Islamist party

Islamabad/Lahore, April 14 (PTI): Pakistan on Wednesday decided to ban a radical Islamist party under the Terrorism Act after its supporters clashed with the law enforcement agencies for the third consecutive day, leaving seven persons dead and over 300 policemen injured.

Interior Minister Sheikh Rashid Ahmed told the media that the Tehreek-i-Labaik Pakistan (TLP) was being banned under the Rule 11-B of Anti-Terrorism Act of 1997.

"I have approved a proposal sent by the government of Punjab to ban the TLP," he said.

Ahmed said that at least two police officials were killed and 340 injured in clashes with the protestors during the last two days.

There were media reports that at least two protestors were also killed.

The TLP had launched the country-wide protest on Monday following the arrest of its chief Saad Hussain Rizvi ahead of April 20 deadline the Islamists had given to the Imran Khan government demanding expulsion of the French ambassador for publication of caricatures of Prophet Muhammad.

The minister also said that all motorways and highways had been cleared and the main choking point in major cities also cleared of protestors. He said that the law enforcing agencies were working the points where still some protestors were present.

Interestingly, the Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf government which is fully backed by the military establishment had signed an agreement with the TLP in November last agreeing to expel the French ambassador.

The TLP launched a massive protest in November last year against the cartoons but dispersed after the agreement with the government to expel the ambassador by February. The deal was extended until April 20.

The government had promised to take action on the demands of the TLP by bringing a legislation in the parliament.

The TLP shot to fame in 2017 when it held a massive protest for three weeks in the busy Faizabad interchange near Islamabad. It lifted the lockdown of the city after the then government sacked the law minister.

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