Pakistan lifts ban on far-right party

Ban on Tehreek-e-Labbaik Pakistan removed after agreement following violent protests calling for French envoy’s expulsion.

Pakistan lifted a ban on Tehreek-e-Labbaik Pakistan (TLP) Sunday following an agreement reached last week between the government and the far-right political party that brought an end to violent nationwide protests calling for the expulsion of the French ambassador.

The ban was removed by the federal Cabinet in a hurriedly called meeting chaired by Prime Minister Imran Khan on a proposal by the Interior Ministry and the government of northeastern Punjab province, the TLP’s stronghold.

“The federal government may consider de-proscription of the TLP” in view of the “larger national interest and long-term perspective to ensure that such incidents do not recur in the future,” said the Interior Ministry.

The TLP was declared a “proscribed” organization in April this year for its alleged involvement in violent protests across the country.

It has been demanding the expulsion of the French ambassador over offensive cartoons of Islam’s Prophet Muhammad published in the satirical French magazine Charlie Hebdo last year.

The TLP claimed that over a dozen of its activists were killed and hundreds wounded in police firing and shelling. However, this cannot be verified through independent sources as the government had imposed a blanket ban on coverage of violent events.

The government has already released over 2,000 detained TLP activists, which was reportedly one of the key clauses of the agreement.

The two sides reached the agreement Sunday after a week of violent protests.

However, they have not divulged any details on the accord, saying they will be revealed in the coming days at “an appropriate time.”


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