ISLAMABAD: Federal Minister for Information Fawad Chaudhry Wednesday said that the Cabinet has decided to treat proscribed Tehreek-e-Labbaik Pakistan (TLP) as a militant group as it is no more a political party given what it has been doing under the garb of religion.

Speaking at a presser after a meeting of the Cabinet chaired by Prime Minister Imran Khan, he said: “We will not treat them [the TLP] as a political party [...] the rest of the country’s institutions such as judiciary, the Election Commission of Pakistan, etc should also play their role.”

“A clear policy decision has been taken. The banned TLP will be treated as a militant group. We will not treat them as a political party,” he added.

The remarks from the minister came after fresh violence erupted between law enforcers and TLP activists near Sadhoke in Punjab’s Gujranwala district on Wednesday, in which they killed at least four policemen and dozens were injured.

Chaudhry said that the banned group was established in 2015 and since then, their modus operandi has been to come out on the roads and block them.

Referring to an earlier presser, he said that the government had already said that the TLP was getting funds from various Indian accounts, adding this is the reason they could be seen on the streets under one pretext or another.

Three policemen martyred in clashes with TLP

“But there is a limit to the State’s patience. They will no more be treated as a religious party as these people are doing militancy, which is not acceptable,” he added.

The minister maintained that the people have a right to their ideas but cannot be allowed to take up arms, if their ideas are not heard, adding the proscribed TLP is trying to impose its ideology on the people of Pakistan, which will not be allowed.

He said that it was decided in today’s cabinet meeting that such activities will not be tolerated, adding, we will not tolerate those who challenge the writ of the state.

In a veiled warning, the minister warned the TLP not to challenge the writ of the state, saying the state of Pakistan had defeated major terrorist organisations such as Al-Qaeda, and no one should make the mistake of thinking that the state is weak.

“Those who made this blunder later realised they were wrong, and militant group like TLP exists nowhere as we know how to deal with them,” he added.

Chaudhry said that the TLP had no status or access to arms like other terror groups, adding it must stop blackmailing the state through staging shows like this, which it has been staging for the sixth time, and the government had shown great restraint.

“We don’t want blood to be spilt but some of their [TLP’s] leadership don’t care about whether people are killed. They want blood to be spilt on the roads,” he added.

Chaudhry said that last time, six policemen were martyred and more than 700 injured in clashes with TLP workers. Now, three cops have been martyred in two days and more than 49 are injured, he said.

“How long will we show restraint,” he questioned.

Referring to the cabinet meeting, he said that Prime Minister Imran Khan chaired a meeting of the federal cabinet in which military, intelligence officials, and other top officials participated, a clear policy decision has been taken that proscribed TLP will be treated as a militant group.

Govt has resolved all issues with TLP except French ambassador’s expulsion: Sheikh Rashid

He said that the way other terrorist organisations are eradicated, the TLP will also be dealt in the same manner.

The minister also lashed out at what he called fake news on social media and called on those spreading misinformation, which also include journalists from the mainstream media to mend their ways.

“We will not tolerate this…we will come [down] hard on you. This is matter of state’s prestige and the matter of people’s lives. Stop this and we will go to any extent to stop this,” he warned.

The minister said that those spreading propaganda by sitting in a foreign country against Pakistan will also be taken to task as the Pakistan Telecommunication Authority (PTA) has been directed to contact the countries from where it is being done.

The minister said that the issue of electronic voting machine (EVM) was discussed in the cabinet meeting, adding we are going to write a letter to the ECP to hold Lahore by-polls through EVMs, which will be a great experiment.

He said that besides by-polls, the cabinet has also proposed to hold upcoming elections of the federal chamber of commerce and the Karachi Port Trust should also be held on EVMs.

He said that cabinet meeting was also given a briefing on comparison in prices of essential commodities in provinces, adding the Sindh government has no control over the prices of essential items as the rate of per 20kg flour bag is Rs380 higher compared to Punjab, and Rs350 expensive as compared to Khyber Pakhtunkhwa.

The minister said that the Pakistan Bureau of Statistics used to release the overall inflation of the country, but now, it has been decided that provincial inflation figure would also be reflected in the PBS inflation.

“We will also update the nation about the overall prices of edible items in the region,” he added.

He said that the decision with regard to wheat support price has been postponed till Monday, adding the Cabinet will once again the wheat support price issue for a detailed discussion before fixing the price.

He said that during the last three years, there has been Rs500 increase in wheat support price, adding we had a bumper crop last year and we are expecting a bumper crop this year as well primarily because of Rs1,100 billion had gone to the rural economy.

He said that the cabinet approved appointment of the board members of Export Development Fund (EDF) for a period of one year, which included adviser to the prime minister on commerce, presidents Karachi Chamber of Commerce, Quetta Chamber of Commerce, and Faisalabad Chamber of Commerce, etc.

He said that the Cabinet also reviewed National Aviation Policy.

Copyright Business Recorder, 2021

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