The TLP’s latest resort to violent protests has caused a lot of human suffering besides loss of public and private property. The photos of 11 policemen who had been taken hostage by the TLP reveal they were badly tortured for performing their duties. Initial reports tell of hundreds of people arrested, three mortal casualties among the protesters, four among policemen, hundreds injured and 40 police vehicles burnt. The economic costs of the three-day long mayhem are yet to be worked out.
The TLP came under focus in 2017 when it made its entry into politics by holding a sit-in at Faizabad and stopping all traffic between Rawalpindi and Islamabad for nearly three weeks. There was a widespread perception that the network could not have done this without the backing of those who matter. The way the protesters were persuaded to call off the strike strengthened the perception.
Over the period the TLP has built a potent narrative around Namoos-e-Risalat, or the sanctity of the Holy Prophet (PBUH). It has taken up volatile issues like Khatm-e-Nubuwat, opposition to Asia Bibi’s acquittal, the Dutch cartoons and French President Macron’s remarks in support of freedom to make cartoons. The TLP’s highly emotional narrative appeals to a large number of people, especially those belonging to lower income groups, who are led to believe that sinful activities like blasphemy are somehow or other responsible for their miseries. The narrative has been further supported by remarks by the PM who says he wants to bring together Muslim rulers to join his struggle against Islamophobia.
The TLP’s narrative brings together militant extremists ready to do anything to implement the network’s programme. Terrorist organizations like Al Qaeda, TTP, and Daesh are keen to stage another 9/11 in Europe which has a large number of expatriates from Muslim countries. The terrorist outfits are short of recruits. The hand of friendship extended by the TTP to the TLP is ominous. These terrorist networks look towards the TLP which has created a frenzy all over Pakistan. In case these networks are successful Pakistan will suffer a lot as a result of international backlash. It is time those looking after Pakistan’s security take rational decisions.