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LAHORE: The Punjab Home Department has deleted the name of Tehreek-e-Labbaik Pakistan (TLP) Chief Saad Hussain Rizvi from the Fourth Schedule of the Anti-Terrorism Act, 1997.

The Fourth Schedule is a section of the anti-terrorism act under which someone who is suspected of terrorism or sectarianism is kept under observation and it is mandatory for him/her to register his/her attendance with the local police regularly.

It also includes elements found to be or suspected to be involved in anti-state activities, delivering hate speeches and/or activists of religious outfits not yet banned but related to militancy in some way.

A notification issued by the home department on Wednesday stated that the "name of Hafiz Mohammad Saad, being Ameer of Tehreek-e-Labbaik Pakistan, a proscribed organisation, was listed in the 4th Schedule of the Anti-Terrorism Act, 1997, under Section 11-E on the recommendations of the District Intelligence Committee, Lahore".

The order said that after the TLP was de-proscribed by the federal government, the name of Saad Rizvi was deleted from the list of the 4th Schedule with immediate effect. The federal cabinet on Sunday had revoked its earlier decision of declaring the TLP a proscribed organisation under the anti-terrorism laws after the party assured that it would abide by the Constitution and the laws of the country.

The cabinet approved the interior ministry's summary after the Punjab government proposed that 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".

Just six months after being outlawed, the TLP got a clean chit from the federal cabinet and its cases quashed as well as workers released from jails after reaching an agreement with the government. A day after the federal cabinet removed the TLP's name from the list of banned outfits the party announced an end to its sit-in in Wazirabad.

On April 12, police had arrested the TLP chief ahead of the group's planned protests for the expulsion of the French envoy to Pakistan. The next day, police registered a First Information Report (FIR) against Saad under sections of the ATA and subsequently placed his name on the Fourth Schedule on April 16.

Meanwhile, the government declared the TLP a proscribed outfit under the anti-terror laws in the same month after the violent protests by the group's activists across the country. Several policemen and TLP supporters had died during the clashes and the PTI government had to strike a secret deal to end the countrywide agitation.

The government had assured the TLP that it would not pursue minor cases against the leadership and workers, but the cases registered under the anti-terrorism act would be decided by courts. The government had also assured the TLP leadership that it would unfreeze the accounts and assets.

It may be mentioned that while some 2,100 TLP activists had already been released from police custody after the federal government-TLP agreement, the revocation of the group's proscribed status automatically removed around 8,000 TLP activists from the Fourth Schedule.

Meanwhile, the government transferred the entire police high command of Lahore earlier this month in a massive reshuffle in the wake of their "mishandling of the TLP's violent rally". Several Regional Police Officers (RPOs) and District Police Officers (DPOs) were also reshuffled in Punjab.

Copyright Business Recorder, 2021

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