LAHORE:An anti-terrorism court (ATC) on Saturday extended the remand of Tehreek-e-Labbaik Pakistan (TLP) chief Khadim Hussain Rizvi and other accused till March 16.
Rizvi and TLP central leadership, Pir Afzal Qadri and Pir Ejaz Ashrafi, are in jail for organising protests against the acquittal of Aasia Bibi, who was freed by the Supreme Court after spending at least 10 years on death row.
During the three-day protests, the TLP leadership urged supporters to ‘kill the judges and rebel against the generals’.
Subsequently, they were booked on charges of sedition and terrorism for delivering anti-state speeches and inciting violence.
On Nov 25, the Punjab government detained Rizvi, Qadri and over 1,100 TLP cadres for 30 days under Section 3 of the Maintenance of Public Order (MPO) ordinance two days after taking Rizvi in ‘protective custody’.
Violent protests had erupted in different parts of the country as activists of TLP and other religious parties took to the streets and blocked major roads and intersections through sit-ins and by putting barricades in protest against the SC verdict.
The religious party, founded in 2015, burst onto the scene after the government carried out Mumtaz Qadri’s death sentence in 2016.
In November 2017, TLP followers blocked Islamabad’s main road protesting against the PML-N-led government’s alleged attempt to amend the “finality of Prophethood” constitutional clause.
Agitators clashed with LEAs forcing the army to step in to curb the violence.
After the Faizabad sit-in, the TLP staged a three-day long protest following the acquittal of Aasia Bibi by the Supreme Court. During the protest, the demonstrators termed the chief justice “liable to be killed” and called for a rebellion against the army chief “because he is a non-Muslim”. The protest defused after the PTI government and TLP brokered a deal.
This makes it twice the federation capitulating to Rizvi’s demands, giving him prominence in the religious sphere.
Subsequently, the top court had to take a suo motu of the protests and directed the federal and provincial governments to submit a report in this regard.
Moreover, the TLP also managed to translate its religious rhetoric into votes as it bagged at least 4 per cent of the total votes in the last general elections. The party’s count was only 300,000 votes less than its heavyweight rival Muttahida Majlis-e-Amal (MMA), an old five-party alliance.