Pakistan reaches deal with banned TLP; frees hundreds of supporters amid clashes | World News

Hundreds of supporters of a banned Islamist party were released in Pakistan after the Imran Khan-led government struck a deal with Tehreek-e-Labbaik Pakistan (TLP) to end the violent clashes that have resulted in the death of seven policemen, multiple news agencies have reported. The group has been protesting against the Pakistan government for months, demanding the release of its party chief Saad Rizvi who was arrested in April this year.

TLP is the same group that spearheaded the major anti-France protests after President Emmanuel Macron defended the right of a satirical magazine to republish cartoons depicting the Prophet Mohammed.

“Some 860 TLP workers were freed on Tuesday. They were detained under section 3 of MPO (maintenance of public order). No case was registered against them,” the Punjab Home Department said in a statement, according to news agency PTI. Other detainees from the protest who have first information reports (FIRs) registered against them would have to obtain bail from courts, the report further said.

Last week, thousands of TLP supporters began a march from the eastern city of Lahore to capital Islamabad. The protesters reached about one-third of the way before they called it off. However, the protests are still continuing with protesters staging a sit-in at parks in the city of Wazirabad. The demonstrators say that they will not withdraw their agitation until the Pakistan government fulfills 50 per cent of the terms of their agreement.

“In case any further arrests of the party’s workers or leaders are made, the agreement with the government will stand cancelled,” said Tehreek-e-Labbaik’s Mufti Muneeb Rehman, warning the Pakistan government, PTI reported. “If the government appears non-serious with regard to the agreement, it will have to face a more forceful protest movement,” Muneeb also said.

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Details regarding the deal between the group and the Pakistan government are not known yet. The government delegation that negotiated with the banned organisation included foreign minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi, National Assembly speaker Asad Qaiser, minister of state for parliamentary affairs Ali Mohammad Khan and other senior ministers.

(With agency inputs)

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