- Information Minister says that no one can blackmail the state
Minister for Information and Broadcasting Fawad Chaudhry said on Wednesday that the government has decided to consider the banned Tehreek-i-Labbaik Pakistan (TLP) as a "militant organisation."
“We have taken a clear policy decision that the banned TLP will now be considered a militant organisation,” he said while addressing a press conference in Islamabad after the cabinet meeting chaired by Prime Minister Imran Khan.
“We will not treat them as a political organisation anymore,” he emphasised.
The information minister further said that all institutions in this regard should fulfill their responsibility. “We will end this movement as we have ended other terrorist organisations,” he said.
The minister said that having an idea on an issue is acceptable, but "resorting to violence if your idea is not accepted, is not tolerable.”
“If this is accepted, the state would lose its existence," Fawad explained.
"If the state starts sharing the monopoly over violence among private groups, then that would be the end of the state.”
Fawad told reporters that it has been decided that TLP's violent activities will not be tolerated at any cost. “No one can challenge the writ of the state,” he repeated.
Giving the example of other militant organisations that challenged the writ of the Pakistani state, the minister said that Pakistan has defeated militant groups like Al-Qaeda and many other major terrorist outfits. “No one should make the mistake of thinking that the state of Pakistan has weakened,” he warned.
Talking about the TLP, he said that this organisation has no existence. You [TLP] cannot blackmail the state of Pakistan,” he thundered.
The minister said that the Pakistani state and its government have shown patience so far because we don’t want bloodshed.
“The group’s [TLP] leadership is not worried about the loss of lives. In fact, they want bloodshed on the streets,” he said.
Sharing details of the loss of lives of police officials in TLP’s attacks, Fawad said that during the last protest, six policemen were martyred and more than 700 were wounded. In the ongoing protests, three policemen have been martyred and more than 49 have been wounded, he said.
Should we continue to watch this spectacle? How long should we tolerate you?” he questioned.
He also warned people campaigning in support of the TLP on social media of implications if they didn’t stop spreading the fake news.
“We will not accept fake news and we will come hard on you,” he said.
The minister also said that TLP is getting social media support from many countries. “We are going to contact those countries and ask for these people’s expulsion,” he announced.
Government calls in Rangers in Punjab
Shortly after the information minister's presser, Interior Minister Sheikh Rashid Ahmed announced that the Rangers were being called in to maintain law and order in Punjab for 60 days after recent clashes with the proscribed TLP.
Addressing a press conference in Islamabad, the minister said a summary in this regard has been sent to the federal cabinet for approval.
On Tuesday, Interior Minister said that the government had resolved all issues with the TLP, except the issue of the French ambassador.
Rashid reiterated that all civil-military institutions were on one page on this issue and had decided that the French ambassador's expulsion and embassy’s shutdown were not doable.
Earlier, TLP's leadership accused Interior Minister of lying that matters with the government had been resolved.
In a statement issued by the group's central committee, TLP leader Syed Sarwar Shah Saifi said: "Sheikh Rashid lied yesterday that matters have been resolved. He also lied about contact [with us] at 8 pm — from them till now no government official, including Sheikh, has contacted [us]."
"Let the entire nation see the malicious intent of the government," the statement said.
Reportedly, TLP has given November 2 as the new deadline for the expulsion of the French ambassador from Pakistan.