No state can countenance challenge to its writ. This is the red line which must not be crossed. A religio-political party, however, chose to ignore this cardinal tenet of conduct with reckless abandon. It’s no wonder then state swung to action and first rounded up its top leadership and now have booked them for serious charges.
Federal Minister for Information and Broadcasting Fawad Chaudhry on Saturday announced that the government has decided to take action against the Tehreek-e-Labaik Pakistan (TLP) and has registered cases against its key leaders under sedition and terrorism charges. They have been accused of inciting violence and taking recourse to arson and damage to property during their protest in the first week of November.
He informed reporters that the government has decided to take legal action against the TLP leadership. The party supremo Khadim Hussain Rizvi has been charged under terrorism and sedition laws at a police station in Lahore. His No 2 Pir Afzal Hussain Qadri has been charged for the same offences in Gujrat.
Two more important leaders from Rawalpindi have also been booked for identical charges. He recalled that a total of 2,899 people were taken into protective custody from Punjab, 139 from Sindh and 126 from Islamabad. They could face life imprisonment if convicted by courts. The minister hastened to add that a large number of people were not directly involved in violence and will be released after securing necessary undertakings.
TLP had staged a 20-day sit-in at Faizabad interchange in November 2017 which had caused much inconvenience to the public. The party was insisting on holding another such show in Rawalpindi’s Liaquat Bagh on November 25 to commemorate the anniversary of the first sit-in. The government initially tried to coax it into abandoning the plan but it did not budge. Sensing trouble, authorities took Rizvi and other top leaders into protective custody on November 23. This action was widely expected and appears to have the backing of all institutions. A fortnight ago, the army’s top brass said it backed state institutions in ensuring the writ of the state “in which lies the peace, stability and prosperity of the country”.