Imran Khan govt reaches secret agreement with TLP, accepts demands

Islamabad: The weeks-long chaos, violence, and bloody confrontational protests staged by the banned Tehreek-e-Labaik Pakistan (TLP) has forced the Imran Khan government of Pakistan to fall down to its knees and agree to the TLP demands through yet another agreement done secretly and kept away from public glare.

The whole episode, starting from the TLP launching a protest rally marching towards federal capital Islamabad and colliding in a bloody confrontation with the security forces, which resulted in casualties of police officials and serious injuries to hundreds others, to enforced change of stance by various sitting ministers, who were directed to change their strong tone against the TLP, has only brought what is widely being called “humiliation” to the Imran Khan government and has established the inability of the ruling political setup to maintain writ of the state against religious hardliners.

“There was nothing surprising about the government succumbing to the lawless brigade. The writ of the state has yet again crumbled in the face of violent extremism,” senior strategic analyst Zahid Hussain said.

The Imran Khan-led government has apparently signed an agreement with the banned TLP, agreeing to not only release hundreds of its arrested protesters, charged with terrorism from Pakistani jails, but also its leader Saad Rizvi, who has also been in custody for heading a proscribed outfit.

Furthermore, the government has also reportedly agreed to allow the banned outfit to contest in elections (both provincial and general) as it is a registered political party.

The latest fiasco of the TLP protest is part of its demand of sending back the French Ambassador in Islamabad and cutting all diplomatic ties with France over its deliberate attempt to ridicule the Prophet Mohammad (PBUH) and endorsing the making of caricatures by “Charlie Hebdo” magazine under the umbrella of freedom of expression.

“This is the seventh time in the past five years that the TLP has brought the state to its knees. Each time it has returned with more empowerment,” said Hussain.

The government’s secret agreement with the TLP has sparked widespread criticism by the masses against the Imran Khan government, as they question him for allowing a banned organisation to paralyse the country and decide the country’s political and ideological course, despite having no representation in the parliament.

Family members of police officers, who were brutally tortured and killed by the TLP protesters, have lashed out at the government’s failure and have asked of why their loved ones were allowed to be killed when the government had to agree to the demands in the first place.

The matter has raised serious questions over the country’s political and intelligence level linkages to such banned outfits, vivid details of which were shared by Justice Qazi Isa’s ruling of the 2017 sit-in by the TLP.

The ruling shed light on role of political leaders and intelligence agencies in encouraging the mod in order to weaken the then federal government.

With the government, like many others in the past have succumbed to the TLP demands through an agreement, many believe that “the often repeated mantra of establishing the writ of the state has become a joke”.

“The deal has legitimised a banned terrorist group. The crisis is far from over. Emboldened by their latest triumph, the radical clerics will soon be back with new demands. The country remains hostage to a terrorist band threatening to tear apart national security,” said Hussain.