Islamabad- Following several days of unsuccessful negotiations with the banned Islamist group Tehreek-e-Labbaik Pakistan (TLP), the Imran Khan government has decided to treat it as a “militant organisation.”
This decision was made after a meeting of the country’s civil and military leadership, Dawn newspaper reported.
Several clashes were reported near a highway, just outside Lahore, after TLP tried to resume its march on Islamabad to pressurise the government to accept its demands.
At least four policemen were killed and over 250 injured during the clashes on Wednesday.
Speaking at a press conference, Pakistan Information Minister Fawad Chaudhry said the government has decided that the TLP would no more be dealt with as a political party but as a militant organisation.
“The cabinet has decided to treat TLP as a militant organisation and it will be crushed as other such groups have been eliminated. Pakistani state has defeated major terrorist organisations such as Al Qaeda,” Chaudhry said.
“Yesterday PM (Imran Khan) chaired a meeting which was attended by the military leadership and representatives of intelligence agencies and relevant authorities. It was decided that the TLP would no more be dealt as a political party but as a militant organisation and it would not be tolerated anymore,” he said.
During a presser, Pakistani Interior Minister Sheikh Rashid warned that the way the TLP was behaving, it could be declared a global terrorist organisation.
“We have decided to deploy Rangers in Punjab for 60 days to maintain law and order situation in the province, like Karachi.” “In such a case, nothing will be in our control,” he was quoted as saying by Dawn.
The minister added that automatic weapons were used by the TLP against the police which restricted themselves to baton charge and tear gas shelling.
On Wednesday, TLP’s central committee had that country’s interior minister Rashid had lied that the ongoing matters between it and the government has been settled.
“Sheikh Rashid lied yesterday that matters have been resolved. He also lied about contact [with us] at 8 pm — from them till now no government official, including Sheikh, has contacted [us],” said TLP leader Syed Sarwar Shah Saifi.
On Monday, Rashid had assured to fulfil the commitments the government made with the TLP during negotiations a day earlier, saying the matter would be discussed during a federal cabinet meeting on Wednesday following Prime Minister Imran Khan’s return from Saudi Arabia.
The interior minister had said that the government did not have any “reservations” on the TLP’s demands and there was agreement on all issues discussed with the group — except for the matter of the French ambassador’s expulsion.
Hundreds of TLP workers had taken to the streets throughout the country last week to exert pressure on the government for the release of its chief Hafiz Saad Hussain Rizvi.
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