TLP’s radicalism impacting Pakistan’s political structure: Expert
Lahore: A Lahore-based journalist has said the rise of the Tehreek-e-Labbaik Pakistan (TLP) group has changed the trend in Pakistan which has witnessed religious-political parties not gaining much popularity or even vote bank politics in the country.
"The party rose to fame, when the previous government of PML-N hanged Mumtaz Qadri, the killer of former Punjab governor Salman Taseer over blasphemy accusations. The party successfully disrupted life in twin cities in 2016, then again in 2017, protesting against a change in Election Act, 2017," Sulman Ali wrote in his opinion piece published in The Pakistan Daily.
The party led by firebrand cleric Khadim Hussain Rizvi successfully gained popularity over the issue of blasphemy among the masses, the writer mentioned.
In his opinion piece, he mentioned the rise of the group as a strong political outfit in the national elections in 2018.
"The religious outfit quickly registered itself as a political party and took part in the 2018 general elections. The party fielded 571 candidates, including 178 for the National Assembly. Although it won only two provincial seats – both in Karachi – however, surprisingly for many observers, it emerged as the fifth largest party in the country. It gained 2.2 million votes, which meant 4.2 per cent of the total votes cast. It was narrowly behind the MMA, which got 2.56 million votes," Ali wrote.
"This shows the popularity of the party. In recently held NA elections in Karachi, TLP candidate Allama Nazir Ahmed secured 11,125 votes, coming third, even defeating the federal ruling party Pakistan Tehrik-e-Insaf (PTI)," he wrote.
He mentioned the recent activity and protests by TLP workers when they were demanding the expulsion of the French ambassador over French President Macron’s anti-Islam remarks.
Ali said: "Due to the protests, the French government even asked its citizens to leave Pakistan. Experts noted that the party has grown powerful enough to a point that the government once again engaged in talks and signed a deal with it, then later held a session in parliament over the expulsion of the French envoy."
"Experts note recent events are not a good sign for a country like Pakistan, which is already on the Financial Action Task Force (FATF) grey-list over terror financing. Although the government has fulfilled 24 conditions, out of 27, still the international body has kept Pakistan on the grey list, and with the incidents and violent protests by TLP, experts say it will be again hard for Islamabad to fight its case," he said.