Islamabad: The Imran Khan-led Pakistani government has decided to treat outlawed Islamist group Tehreek-e-Labbaik Pakistan (TLP) as a "militant organisation" after many days of failed negotiations with the outfit.
According to Dawn, the decision was made at a meeting of the country's civil and military officials. Several clashes were reported in the country after the TLP attempted to resume its march on Islamabad in an attempt to put pressure on the government to meet its demands. On Wednesday, at least four cops were killed and more than 250 injured during the clashes, reported the news outlet.
Pakistan Information Minister Fawad Chaudhry announced at a press conference that the government has decided to treat the TLP as a militant organisation rather than a political party. He informed that the decision was taken in a meeting, chaired by Prime Minister Imran Khan, which was attended by the military leadership, as well as members from intelligence agencies and other relevant authorities. "The cabinet has decided to regard the TLP as a militant organisation, and it will be suppressed in the same way the previous militant organisations have been. Pakistan has vanquished major terrorist groups such as Al Qaeda and the Taliban," Chaudhry was quoted as saying by the Pakistani newspaper.
Meanwhile, Pakistani Interior Minister Sheikh Rashid warned that the TLP's action could lead to it being designated as a global terrorist organisation. He stated that the government has decided to send Rangers to Punjab for 60 days to help maintain law and order in the province, which includes Karachi. According to the minister, the TLP used automatic firearms against the police, who were limited to baton charges and tear gas shelling.
Last week, hundreds of TLP members took to the streets across the country to put pressure on the government to release the party's leader, Hafiz Saad Hussain Rizvi.
It is worth mentioning here that the TLP has been behind major anti-France protests which led to the embassy issuing a warning for all French citizens to leave the country earlier this year.
The TLP supporters are now holding violent protests across Pakistan, especially in Lahore and Islamabad, urging PM Khan-led administration to release their leader. Notably, in the 2018 general elections, TLP emerged as the fifth largest political party and in terms of votes received in Punjab, it had surpassed the Pakistan People's Party (PPP).