The on-going protest of Tehreek-e-Labbaik is a replay of its protest started on November 8, 2017, as the demands of the religious party (can be called pressure group) are of religious nature. Back in 2017, they came out for the change in the declaration of the Prophethood of Holy Prophet (SAW) in PMLN’s government and against the possible acquittal of blasphemy convict Aasia Bibi in 2018 in PTI’s regime. The on-going protest is a sequel of the protest started in April 2021 where the expulsion of the French Ambassador was the main motive after a blasphemous caricature was published in France. The protest ended with accepted demand that the matter of the publication of the blasphemous caricature will be discussed in parliament.
TLP was formed by Khadim Hussain Rizvi on August 1 2015. The credit to the power of Tehreek-e-Labbaik is often given to the establishment by intellectuals. TLP always has a history of forceful politics targeting religion. Government is always hesitant to use state power against TLP because of the religious nature of the matter.
After the protest back in April 2021, TLP was declared as a proscribed organization by the government. A significant fact to mention here is PTI’s role in the 2017 protest of TLP where they supported the TLP Faizabad sit-in. In the current crisis (TLP protest), the government seems to be confused. On one hand, they demonstrate the power of the state on Protestants and after casualties on both sides, they are ready for the table talks. The pledge made by the government to take the issue of French envoy expulsion in parliament is heating things up. Faisal Vawda also apprised of alarming news that the Prime minister was not notified of previous talks with the banned TLP.
What makes the situation more doubtful is the ban of TV, Radio coverage of TLP by PEMRA. Due to the ban, point of view of TLP and the real situation appears vague to the common people. The matter to be worried is that the casualties are occurring on both sides, there are Muslims who respect the sanctity of the Holy Prophet (SAW) whereas the ones who made the caricatures and disrespected our Prophet (SAW) are enjoying the show. Common people are facing the music. The execution of the protest by TLP is asking a lot of questions but the demand for expulsion of the French envoy is too small in front of the sanctity of the Holy Prophet (SAW).
The chaotic situation is in control as the government and TLP came into an agreement whereas details will be unveiled at the appropriate time. TLP has now called off their protests across the country after meeting with authoritative government team and came to a conclusion. The point to ponder is that they have protested 7 times and come to 7 agreements since their inception in 2015 and 7 times they have put the state (government) in a shaky condition. Governance policy is also debatable as the government was looking in both directions i-e applying state authority or to solve the matters through negotiation. Fawad Chaudhary was talking about treating TLP as a terrorist organization whereas the government came to an agreement with the TLP. The state was deemed quite weak at every instance against TLP. The details of the agreement are kept confidential by both parties. It is also possible that TLP will protest again if the promises made by the government are not fulfilled.
Back in April 2021, the government signed an agreement that they would bring the issue of French envoy in Parliament and will discuss it and the protests by TLP were called off. On the part of the government, one thing should have been done either agreement should not have taken place or government should have fulfilled their pledge. The state is the most supreme institution and the state always should have controlling power over its citizens. The decorum of state should be maintained. Also, the protection of the citizens and their property is the foremost responsibility of the state. Protesting into the capital of a solo nuclear state in Muslim World is a big deal and raises a lot of security concerns.
Concluding with remarks that the sober TLP religious supporters must think who are they hurting by protesting all across Pakistan? Do their protests are making any difference in France or they are hurting your own country economy? The issue of the sanctity of the Holy Prophet (SAW) is a serious concern for all Muslims around the globe. It is mandatory to prevent such blasphemous acts anywhere in the world. The authorities in power in every Muslim state should made a comprehensive action plan to raise the issue at international forums and to stop it in the future.
Author: Shehryar Ahmed
He is an under-graduate student of International Relations at National University of Modern Languages, Islamabad.