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Under threat, Imran Khan to release proscribed hardline Islamist group's leader

Rizvi was detained by the Punjab government on April 12 for “maintenance of public order (MPO)”. He was initially detained for three months and then again under the anti-terrorist Act on July 10.
Hundreds of TLP workers took to the streets across the country to exert pressure on the government for the release of Rizvi. (AP File Photo)
Published on Oct 25, 2021 09:48 AM IST
Byhindustantimes.com | Written by Meenakshi Ray, New Delhi

The Imran Khan-led government has said Saad Hussain Rizvi, the chief of proscribed hardline Islamist group Tehreek-i-Labbaik Pakistan (TLP), will be released and cases against its protesters will be dropped. Pakistan interior minister Sheikh Rashid Ahmed announced on Sunday that the cases against the TLP protesters will be dropped by Wednesday.

Ahmed's announcement came after hundreds of TLP workers took to the streets across the country to exert pressure on the government for the release of Rizvi. The minister said the ban on TLP will also be reviewed in the days to come. ARY News reported that the announcement was made after an eight-hour-long meeting between Rizvi and the Imran Khan government.

Rizvi was detained by the Punjab government on April 12 for “maintenance of public order (MPO)”. He was initially detained for three months and then again under the anti-terrorist Act on July 10.

According to the Dawn newspaper, the interior minister addressed a press conference after leading a government team in negotiations with the TLP's representatives, including its detained chief, in Islamabad. “We have released 350 TLP workers up to now and we are still waiting to open both sides of road of Muridke as per the decision with the TLP,” Rashid tweeted later.

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Rashid said another round of talks with the TLP will be held at the ministry of interior in Islamabad on Monday morning. He also said the protesters agreed not to march towards the capital and stay at Muridke, some 33 kilometres from Lahore, till Wednesday.

The TLP warned on Sunday that its workers will stage a sit-in protest near the city of Lahore and then move to Islamabad by Tuesday evening against the detention of its chief Rizvi. "The government has gone back on its word thrice. This time we will sit and wait," the proscribed group's leadership council said in a statement issued on Sunday.

"No one will go home until the entire TLP leadership, including chief Saad Hussain Rizvi, comes to the container and makes an announcement. Even if a member of the council says go home without Saad Rizvi, you may shoot that leader too," the statement also said.

The government also deployed thousands of personnel of various Pakistani forces on Saturday to stop a possible march to Islamabad the Tehreek-i-Labbik Pakistan. The decision was taken after the first round of negotiations held in Lahore ended without any result.

The Dawn newspaper reported that security personnel were being deployed in and around Red Zone and the Faizabad Interchange in Islamabad and that a contingent of 200 police personnel was deployed at the entry points in the city.

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