Cabinet set to lift ban on TLP

Prime Minister Imran Khan has approved the circulation of a summary, requesting the federal cabinet to revoke its earlier decision through which the Tehreek-e-Labbaik Pakistan (TLP) was declared a “proscribed” organisation under the country’s anti-terrorism law.

The interior ministry’s summary circulated among the cabinet members with the premier’s approval on Friday was based on the TLP’s commitment and assurance to the government that it would abide by the Constitution and laws of the country – meaning “no more violent protests”.

The summary was moved after the Punjab government proposed to the interior ministry that the Centre might “consider de-notifying of the TLP as a banned outfit” in view of the “larger national interest and long-term perspective to ensure that such [violent] incidents do not recur in the future”.

Before sending the summary to the cabinet seeking withdrawal of its earlier decision, the interior ministry has taken the law ministry’s views on the matter and had them approved by the prime minister as well.

“The prime minister has been pleased to accord [his] approval for [the] submission of the instant summary to the cabinet through circulation,” the interior ministry’s summary read.

Federal Information and Broadcasting Minister Fawad Chaudhry confirmed to The Express Tribune that the summary was in circulation. “It takes 24 hours and a minimum of 14 ministers’ signatures for approval; that has yet to be done,” he said.

Sources in the interior ministry and a couple of cabinet ministers had similar views on the development.

The decision to restore TLP’s status of a political party has come days after the government had decided to treat TLP as a “militant” organisation; alleged it with having a nexus with India and denounced its “misuse of religion” from the forum of the National Security Committee amid a ban on its coverage.

Armed with sticks, canes and in some instances guns, the TLP has frequently created unrest in the country; went on a rampage; caused loss of life and damaged properties worth millions of rupees through a series of violent clashes with the law enforcement agencies while demanding the closure of the French embassy and expulsion of its ambassador after the publication of blasphemous sketches of the Holy Prophet (PBUH) in France.

Read ATC grants bail to several TLP leaders

Earlier, the federal government had said that it had “responsible grounds to believe that the TLP was engaged in terrorism, acted in a manner prejudicial to the peace and security of the country, involved in creating anarchy in the country by intimidating the public, and caused grievous harm, hurt and death to the personnel of law enforcement agencies and innocent by-standers”.

On its grounds for disbanding the party, the government had stated that the TLP had “attacked civilians and officials, created wide-scale hurdles, threatened, abused and promoted hatred, vandalized and ransacked public and government properties including vehicles and caused arson, blocked essential health supplies to hospitals, and had used, threatened, coerced, intimidated, and overawed the government and public, creating a sense of fear and insecurity in the society and the public at large”.

Once on the verge of facing a reference in the Supreme Court after the federal cabinet declared it a banned organisation, the TLP has recently reached a secret agreement with the government and is set to return, as the interior minister had said, as “the third largest political party of Punjab”.

According to the interior ministry’s summary, the TLP was proscribed by the federal cabinet on the recommendation of the Punjab Home Department via its letter of April 13.

The interior ministry had outlawed TLP on April 15 under Section 11-B (1) of the Anti-Terrorism Act of 1997.

Read more TLP withdraws application on Saad Rizvi’s release

On April 29, the TLP had filed a review application. The federal cabinet had formed a Proscription Review Committee (PRC), which reviewed the religious outfit’s application and ruled that the federal government’s decision to proscribe it was based on merit.

The cabinet had once again approved PRC’s decision and TLP was accordingly informed.

However, the summary added that the Punjab Home Department had informed the interior ministry that the TLP had submitted an undertaking with the request to revoke the proscription.

After considering the application as well as the assurance given by the TLP, the provincial cabinet committee on law and order as well as the provincial cabinet recommended revoking the proscription of the outfit.

With the prime minister and law ministry’s approval, the interior ministry has solicited the federal cabinet’s approval to “de-proscribe” the TLP on the basis of the recommendations of the Punjab government.

“The minister for interior has seen and authorised the submission of the summary,” the document, which can be approved only after 24 hours, read.

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