LONDON: Supporters of the Tehreek-e-Labbaik Pakistan (TLP) staged a noisy protest outside the Pakistan High Commission here, calling on the government to accept the demands of the proscribed organization and end the police action against supporters of the group, who are currently marching towards Islamabad, the federal capital.
Over 100 protesters gathered under the banner of what they called the “Organisation For Protection of Human Rights UK” and held a protest for around two hours. Supporters of the TLP attended the protest from across the UK and came to the protest on coaches. Lots of them were from London but the remaining came from as far as Bradford, Blackburn and Birmingham.
The protesters chanted slogans against the PTI government ministers and alleged that they had violated the terms of the deal with the TLP leadership on numerous occasions. In a petition presented to the Pakistan High Commission, the protesters called for the immediate resignation of PM Imran Khan, Interior Minister Sheikh Rashid, Minister of Religious Affairs Noor-ul-Haq Qadri and Federal Minister for Information Fawad Chaudhary for the “repeated failures to abide by agreement with TLP.”
The protest in London was held after Prime Minister Imran Khan and cabinet ministers vowed that there would be no surrender to any group involved in violent attacks on the state forces and policemen. PM Imran Khan has said that his government will not accept any illegal and unacceptable demand of the TLP or any other group. Federal ministers Fawad Chaudhary, Asad Umar and others have said that the TLP is involved in getting help from abroad including from Indian sources – a charge TLP has denied and rejected.
The protesters’ leaders outside Pakistan High Commission alleged that the government was involved in the “contempt of Lahore High Court and Supreme Court of Pakistan orders” by refusing to release Saad Razvi, the leader of the TLP which the government has declared a militant violent outfit but its supporters say the TLP is a legitimate political party.
The speakers accused the PTI government of taking foreign funding and not allowing the institutions to investigate its own foreign funding case but accusing the TLP of taking funds from abroad to work against the interests of Pakistan. They said the government ministers were deliberately misinforming and misleading the Pakistani public about the agreement with the TLP and the use of “draconian force”.
The TLP leaders said the government has no idea what will happen if this matter continues to fester and escalate. They alleged that the interior minister has “put Pakistan in grave danger by giving the Government of Punjab free hand” to deal with the issue.
The petition handed over to the Pakistan High Commission by the protest leaders made a mention to the 2021 Human Rights Report on Pakistan stating that in 2021, Prime Minister Imran Khan’s government intensified its crackdown on critical voices from the media, civil society, non-governmental organisations and political opposition. The petition claimed the report says that the authorities routinely use draconian counterterrorism and sedition laws to intimidate peaceful critics.
Prominent among those who attended the protest included Allama Muhammad Tayyab Naqshbani, Allama Muhammad Aslam Naqshbandi, Allama Muhammad Sajjad Rizvi,, Masqood Qadri, Syed Munawara Shah Bukhari, Asrar Rizvi, Sayeed Zaya, Muhammad Farooq Nizami, Rashid Rizvi, Saqib Qadri and Moulana Maqsood Hussain amongst others.
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