Islamabad: The Pakistan government on Tuesday decided to retain the ban imposed on a radical Islamist party that carried out violent protests in the country over a blasphemous caricature published in France last year.
The Tehreek-i-Labbaik Pakistan (TLP) outfit was banned on April 14 under the Terrorism Act after its supporters clashed with the law enforcement agencies for the third consecutive day, leaving seven persons dead and over 300 policemen injured.
However, the party filed an application with the Interior Ministry, challenging its ban. The plea came to the Cabinet on Tuesday for the final decision.
Addressing media here, Information and Broadcasting Minister Fawad Chaudhry said the Cabinet chaired by Prime Minister Imran Khan decided to maintain the ban on TLP after reviewing a report by a committee tasked to present its recommendations on the issue.
“The Cabinet was told that after listening to the stance of the Punjab government and the party and after investigating the matter, the committee has decided that the party was banned on merit and facts,” Chaudhry said.
The minister said the law ministry will ask the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) to cancel the party’s election symbol.
The TLP rose to prominence in November 2017 when it blocked a key highway linking capital Islamabad with the old airport, alleging that the then Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) government had changed the Islamic contents of the oath given to elected representatives.
The party’s significance grew further after the PML-N government was forced to accept its demand to sack the then law minister Zahid Hamid. Last year, the outfit staged a protest against the blasphemous cartoons published in France and demanded that the French ambassador should be expelled.
However, it dispersed after assurance by the government to tackle the issue of expulsion through Parliament. But the TLP restarted its campaign earlier this year, forcing the government to launch a crackdown and finally banned it in April. –PTI