Pakistan is burning. It’s not as if it’s a rare thing in Pakistan. Pakistan regularly burns for one reason or the other – an army operation to kill innocent civilians in occupied territories like Balochistan or a random bomb blast or a political protest or something such. But this time, it’s different. This time Pakistan is burning because Islamic Republic of Pakistan is not Islamic enough!! Anti-Islamic stance of Pakistan is leading to a Civil War.
Yes. You heard that right. The Pakistan Police has arrested Saad Hussain Rizvi, the chief of Tehreek-e-Labbaik Pakistan from Lahore after he threatened the government with protests if it did not expel France’s ambassador over depictions of Prophet Muhammad. The protesters feel Pakistan is not Islamic enough and are demanding Pakistan stands up to be a proud Islamic nation. In fact, these protesters from a radical fringe group called Tehreek-e-Labbaik Pakistan (TLP) gave the government enough time to act. But, the government didn’t bother. After his arrest, TLP supporters came on the streets of Pakistan and created a ruckus.
Police brutality also saw no end. Protesters were over run by Army/Police heavy vehicles.
Some Sections of Pakistan Army also openly came in support of Tehreek-e-Labbaik Pakistan (TLP) and joined the protesters in their protests against the Pakistan Government to take action against France. In one video we received, a Pakistan Army personnel says that if Government of Pakistan has decided to declare war against Tehreek-e-Labbaik, then they are also ready to join Tehreek-e-Labbaik and are ready to fight this Jihad war on behalf of TLP.
Supporters of Tehreek-e-Labbaik Pakistan (TLP) also organized protests in front of Pakistan High Commission in London and demanded release of all workers including Saad Hussain Rizvi and expel the French ambassador.
While Imran Khan in his Bloodbath Rant at UNGA eloquently threatened the world with bloodbath when Prophet Muhammad is insulted, we are in a curious case where Pakistan is attacking those who are protesting the insults to Prophet Muhammad and an average Pakistani feels random arson on the roads is a bigger crime than insulting the Prophet.
The French embassy in Pakistan on Thursday advised all French nationals and companies to temporarily leave the country, after violent anti-France protests paralysed large parts of the country this week.
“Due to the serious threats to French interests in Pakistan, French nationals and French companies are advised to temporarily leave the country,” the embassy said in an email to French citizens.
As per Pakistani national media Dawn.com, Pakistan Interior Minister Sheikh Rashid Ahmed on Wednesday announced that the government had decided to ban the Tehreek-i-Labbaik Pakistan (TLP), whose supporters and workers have been carrying out violent protests across the country for three days after the arrest of their chief.
He said the religiopolitical outfit would be banned under Rule 11(b) of the Anti-Terrorism Act (ATA), 1997. Tehreek-i-Labbaik Pakistan (TLP) was in fact banned as per this notification published in the gazette of Pakistan on 15-April 2021.
Rashid said the Punjab government had recommended a ban on the organisation, for which a summary was being sent to the federal cabinet.
Addressing a news conference in Islamabad earlier, Rashid said TLP leaders used to come to all rounds of talks with the government after issuing instructions to their workers regarding road closures.
“They were more prepared than us but today we’ve decided that [a] ban on TLP [will be placed] and this file is going to the cabinet for the approval from today,” the minister said.
Ban comes hours after law enforcement agencies and officials moved to clear TLP activists from roads in different cities of the country as protests entered a fourth day.
Rashid in his remarks said the TLP workers through blocking roads had stopped ambulances from reaching their destinations and impeded the transport of oxygen cylinders for Covid-19 patients.
He noted that GT Road and motorways had now been cleared for traffic. He said two policemen were killed and at least 340 injured in the violence “and the law is following those who blocked roads through social media and gave the message of unrest”.
According to the minister, the police personnel held hostage by TLP workers to gain leverage for their demands have now returned to their police stations.
He said the government was still committed to present a bill regarding Namoos-i-Risalat in the National Assembly and had held several meetings in this regard with TLP leaders.
“It was our effort till the last moment to convince them to agree on a resolution to be presented in the assembly, but all of our efforts were unsuccessful,” he said, adding that a major reason for their failure was that TLP activists “wanted to come to Faizabad chowk and Islamabad at any cost”.
However no one trusts Pakistan that any action will be effective. Michael Kugelman from his twitter handle @MichaelKugelman tweeted, “Pakistan has banned TLP, the extremist group staging violent and deadly protests this week. This is the kind of tough move you want to see-absent until now. But will it work? TLP has a substantial support base. It could well return under a new name. We’ve seen this movie before.”
Marvi Sirmed pointed towards the hypocrisy of Pakistan when it registered TLP as a political party before 2018 General elections for vote bank politics.
The minister said the TLP had done “extensive preparations” for their protest, which were effectively countered by police.
He called upon TLP members “who are running the media” to surrender, saying they were mistaken in their belief that they could create problems for the government through social media.
“We want a document that exalts the flag of the Prophet (PBUH), but what you are demanding gives an impression of us being an extremist-minded state to the world,” he told the TLP leadership.
Rashid completely forgot that Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan in his Bloodbath Rant at UNGA eloquently threatened the world with bloodbath when Prophet Muhammad is insulted.
Answering a question, Rashid said the government had kept Faizabad closed “as a precaution” and the interchange would be reopened by the evening.
Asked why the situation hadn’t changed despite the current administration coming into power, Rashid said in the recent violence police stations were attacked and policemen were abducted and brought down from their motorcycles and beaten up.
The minister stressed that the TLP was being banned “not on the basis of the political situation but because of their character”.
Earlier in the day, Rashid said that the government would deal with an iron fist with those who take the law into their own hands, Radio Pakistan reported.
Chairing a meeting in Islamabad to review the law and order situation, he directed law enforcement agencies to ensure the writ of the state at all costs.
He said that Pakistan Rangers had done an excellent job in collaborating with the police and the administration to clear the roads of protesters.
In the evening, Minister for Science and Technology Fawad Chaudhry said traffic was flowing normally on all important roads across the country.
“Crowds have neither been able to blackmail the state in the past nor will they be able to in the future,” he tweeted.
He said “in a democracy, different groups are allowed to [present] their point of view but no one can blackmail the government by force.”
The “criminals” involved in violence against police and other law-enforcement agencies will be made “a sign of warning”, the minister added.
Why is TLP protesting?
The TLP is protesting against the arrest of their leader Saad Hussain Rizvi, who was taken into custody earlier this week, and blasphemous caricatures published in France. They have demanded that the French ambassador be sent home and import of goods from that country banned.
The deadline pertains to the party’s demands from last year; in October, 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. In the days that followed the beheading, the caricatures were projected onto the facade of a building in one French city and people displayed them at protests around the country.
Following the killing, French President Emmanuel Macron criticised Islamists and vowed not to “give up cartoons” depicting Prophet Muhammad. 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.
The government had reached an agreement with the TLP on Nov 16 to involve the parliament to decide the matter in three months. As the Feb 16 deadline neared, the government had expressed its inability to implement the agreement and sought more time. The TLP had agreed to delay its protest by two-and-a-half months to April 20.
On Sunday, the party chief, in a video message, had asked the TLP workers to be ready to launch the long march if government failed to meet the deadline. It had prompted the government to arrest him.
Police had swooped on Rizvi at around 2pm on Wahdat Road in Lahore on Monday where he had gone to attend a funeral. Outraged, the TLP had issued a call for countrywide protests.
France didn’t take these Pakistani threats lightly. Now France has refused to help Pakistan upgrade its fleet of Mirage fighter jets, air defence system and Agosta 90B class submarines, a direct fallout of Prime Minister Imran Khan’s loud criticism of French President Emmanuel Macron’s defence of the right to mock religion following the murder of a French schoolteacher.
France has also told Qatar, one of the countries that bought the Rafale fighters, not to allow Pakistan-origin technicians to work with the plane over concerns that they could leak technical information about the fighter to Islamabad as the omni-role jet is the front-line fighter of India. Pakistan is known to share vital defence data with China in the past.
Paris has already started putting the asylum requests from Pakistanis under detailed scrutiny in view of the strained ties between the two countries and the stabbing incident outside the former Paris office of the controversial Charlie Hebdo magazine. In September, Ali Hassan, an 18-year-old of Pakistani origin, stabbed two persons with a meat cleaver outside the magazine’s previous office, unaware that the magazine had shifted out. His father, who lives in Pakistan, later told a local news channel that his son had “done a great job” and he is “very happy” about the attack.
Related Article France Leads Europe to Boycott Pakistan
France also reassured Indian foreign secretary Harsh Vardhan Shringla that it is very sensitive to security concerns of its strategic ally and had issued directions about keeping Pakistan-origin technicians away from Rafale fighter jet under the export control regime in light of India’s security concerns that has inducted Rafale fighters in the Indian Air Force.
The French government’s decision not to upgrade the Mirage III and Mirage 5 fighter jets could severely impact the Pakistan Air Force which has had about 150 Mirage fighter jets manufactured by the French firm Dassault Aviation. Only half of them, however, are serviceable.
Pakistan had been buying Mirage jets for decades, some of them discarded by other countries, according to a 2018 AFP report, and has a facility outside Islamabad to refurbish the ageing fighter jets to keep them flying.
As per the reports, Pakistan had recently requested France for upgrades to keep the fighter jets in the air. “The request has been declined.”
A similar request for upgrading the French-Italian air defence system has also been denied.
A third request from Pakistan to upgrade its Agosta 90B class submarines with air-independent propulsion (AIP) systems that would allow them to stay underwater for longer has also been rejected by France.
Pakistan has three Agosta 90B submarines: Khalid, Saad and Hamza.
In August 2020, Germany’s Chancellor Angela Merkel had earlier turned down a similar request for supply of the AIP systems to upgrade submarines in Pakistan’s inventory due to its role in promoting terror, particularly Islamabad’s failure to cooperate in identifying the perpetrators of the truck bomb attack on the Germany Embassy in Kabul in May 2017. Haqqani Network was thought to be against the attack. Haqqani Network has a presence in Pakistan.
Earlier Germany and now French snub to Pakistan would “adversely impact” lethality of Pakistani submarines.
In June 2020, German state government slammed Pakistan on its Nuclear proliferation record. According to a report by the southwest German state of Baden-Württemberg, Pakistan continues to engage in the proliferation of nuclear weapons of mass destruction and is trying to obtain know-how through illegal procurement from the country.
Points to Ponder
From Pakistan’s actions, isn’t this action of Pakistan to ban TLP a political gimmick to ban an opposition party so that there is no opposition left in Pakistan to oppose the government actions?
Is Pakistan an upholder of Islam or a hypocrite who uses Islam to further it’s political agenda?
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