Pakistan on tentorhooks as riots bring routine life to standstill
Islamabad (TP) April 14, 2012: Country-wide violent protests have virtually brought the routine life and traffic to a standstill across Pakistan after workers of the religious-cum-political party Tehreek-e-Labaik (TLP) took to the streets following the arrest of their newly sworn-in leader Saad Rizvi by Lahore police on Sunday.
In the violent protests and riots, dozens of police personnel were injured in Lahore, Gujranwala, DG Khan and other cities of Punjab and several other parts of the country while motorists remained stuck in traffic for several hours as law-enforcement agencies struggled to cope with the unexpected and almost explosive situation that followed the arrest of Rizvi.
The TLP workers and their sympathisers, who clashed with police personnel and other law-enforcers in various cities including in Lahore, Karachi, Rawalpindi and Islamabad, demanded that their detained leader be released immediately.
The TLP workers have almost blocked all major roads, thoroughfares and highways across the country in the last 24 hours, as the federal government and provincial governments have surprisingly left the citizens at the mercy of stick-totting riotors, who have almost unleashed a reign of terror by smashing and torching public cars, buses and trucks on roads.
The TLP workers have virtually held the country hostage to their whims as the government miserably failed to maintain its writ and bring the fast deteriorating law and order situation under control.
As the government has gone on a back foot, the TLP workers have gone on a rampage-spree across the country by torching public cars and property.
Saad Rizvi, the son of firebrand late Khadim Hussain Rizvi, who championed the cause of anti-blasphemy movement in Pakistan following the publication of sacrilegious caricatures in some Europeon countries especially in Denmark and France, was planning to march on Islamabad after the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf government allegedly backtracked from a pledge it had reportedly made with the TLP to expell the French ambassador from Pakistan after the publication of sacrilegious caricatures by a French daily earlier last year.
According to some media reports, the PTI government had entered into an agreement with the TLP, “promising” that the French ambassador will be expelled from Pakistan by the end of April after taking up the matter in parliament and to seek the consent of all political parties.
However, the PTI government did not take the matter to the divisive and hostile parliament, fearing a could shoulder by opposition parties, and instead, arrested the TLP young leader in order to scupper his organisation’s plan to march on the capital.
In several cities, the TLP workers captured police personnel, beat them up and forced them to chant slogans condemning blasphemy. In Lahore, some army personnel joined the TLP protesters and chanted slogans condemning blasphemy.
On the other hand, a large number critics on social media platforms have taken exception to the riots and critized the TLP workers for their unbecoming and uncalled-for acts on roads, their sympathisers have lent complete support for them, calling them the “true guardians”of the sanctity of the prophethood.
Critics allege that the establishment first nurchered, pampered and then surreptitiously launched the TLP to topple former prime minister Nawaz Sharif’s government. The TLP led seiged to the twin cities in 2018 by staging a mong-long sit-in at Faizabad before they called off their protest after military generals interved and disbursed money among the TLP workers, who had reached the sit-in site from every nook and cranny of the country, to enable them to reach back their home.
The naysayers say that the TLP would not have become such an invincible and formidable force had the establishment not been at their backing, initially, when they staged a similar protest against the former Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz government after the latter did not entertain their demand of expelling Denmark’s envoy from Pakistan.
The TLP had also protested across Pakistan in 2019 when a Christian woman, Asia Bibi, who was on a death sentence following her conviction by a court on alleged blamphey charges, was released from jail and sent abroad with her family.
Meanwhile, after a complete mehem on roads for almost 24 hours, the federal government has announced that it will take every step to maintain the law and order situation even if it has to use the force. Interior minister Sheikh Rashid said that the protesters will be dealt with force.