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TLP chief Saad Rizvi released from Lahore jail


LAHORE   –  Tahreek-e-Labbaik Pakistan (TLP) chief Hafiz Saad Rizvi was released from Lahore’s Kot Lakhpat jail Lahore on Thursday.

The move comes following the removal of his name from the Fourth Schedule of the anti-terrorism act and withdrawal of a reference filed in the Supreme Court’s federal review board as part of the secret deal with the federal government. Hundreds of TLP workers have already been released as the government removed their names from the Fourth Schedule.

Saad Rizvi was placed under detention on the orders of Lahore deputy commissioner in April 2021 after his party announced countrywide protests demanding expulsion of the French ambassador and release of its leader. He was initially detained for three months under the Maintenance of Public Order (MPO) and for the rest of the period under anti-terrorism act. The government had also declared the TLP a proscribed organization under the anti-terror law in April this year. 

TLP activists and supporters welcomed their leader as he reached the party’s headquarters, Rehmatul Lil Alameen Mosque at Chowk Yateem Khana. Saad Rizvi has been released a few days before his father’s death anniversary. The TLP is commemorating the death anniversary of party founder Khadim Hussain Rizvi starting from November 20. The district administration will monitor the commemorations through CCTV cameras.

Meanwhile, a senior leader of the PTI Senator Ejaz Ahmad Ch Thursday welcomed the release of the TLP chief and expressed his desire to meet him soon. He hoped that Saad Rizvi would play his political role in the national politics. Earlier, immediately after the signing of an agreement between the government and the TLP two weeks back, Ejaz Ch had hinted at a possible election alliance with the TLP.

TLP activists clashed with police in and around Lahore in recent weeks after their leaders decided to march on Islamabad, seeking the release of the party’s incarcerated leader along with the expulsion of the French ambassador to Pakistan over the publication of anti-Islam caricatures in his country last year.

The law enforcement agencies took the TLP chief into custody in April three days after his party was proscribed under the anti-terrorism laws for killing six police personnel and injuring dozens more during its violent demonstrations. However, the government decided to normalise the legal status of the party and remove the names of several TLP leaders, including Rizvi, from a terrorism watchlist after its recent protests last month.

“All cases against Saad Rizvi which were registered under the anti-terrorism act have been withdrawn by the government and he is now a free man,” said Mufti Umair Al Zehri, senior member of the TLP executive committee. “Rizvi has reached the party headquarters and will deliver the Friday sermon tomorrow.”

The release of the TLP chief has come only a day before the death anniversary of his father, Khadim Hussain Rizvi, on November 19.

Flanked by thousands of TLP workers who had gathered outside the prison in Lahore to welcome their leader, he reached his party headquarters where he is expected to address a three-day religious gathering on Nov 21.

Earlier, one of the members of the TLP executive committee, Mufti Muhammad Umair Al Hariri, directed his party activists from across the country to gather in Lahore to commemorate the death anniversary of the founding father of the group, Khadim Rizvi.

TLP leaders have already been making preparations for a massive power show in Punjab’s provincial capital, Lahore, from November 19-21Minister of state for parliamentary affairs Ali Muhammad Khan said the government had dealt the TLP issue to ensure the security of ordinary citizens across the country. “We have handled the issue in a very calculated manner,” he said. “Saad Rizvi’s group is a political faction which participated in the elections and secured more than 2.5 million votes. The government has asked the TLP leadership to get its members elected in the national parliament and join the political sphere of the country.” The details of last month’s agreement between the government and the TLP have not been officially announced, though officials had promised its contents would be revealed at a later stage.

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