Pakistan Lifts Ban on Radical Islamist Party

On Monday, November 8, Pakistan announced that it had lifted the ban on the radical Islamist party Tehreek-e-Labiak Pakistan (TLP) after causing violent protests that lasted days, leaving six police officers and four demonstrators dead.

Pakistan's move to lift the ban came after last week's negotiations. Prime Minister Imran Khan's government and the TLP agreed to cease its planned march to Islamabad. Authorities also declared that the radical Islamist group is no longer considered an outlaw group. 

Shah Mahmood Qureshi, Pakistan's Foreign Minister, and Mufti Muneebur Rehman, a religious leader of the TLP, held earlier discussions on Sunday, October 31, to put a stop to the violent protests.

Rehman, after the 12-hour negotiation in October, said that "details and positive results of the agreement will come before the nation in a week or so."

The following Sunday, November 7, the interior minister lifted the ban. The Monday after, the TLP ended their two-week protests that filled the major roads and highways in Wazirabad. TLP also announced to the demonstrators that their leader, Rizvi, would soon be released, urging them to return to their homes.

The TLP has been pressuring the Pakistani government to close the French embassy and for the expulsion of the French ambassador. The protests came as TLP retaliated to the French President, Emmanuel Macron, defending the cartoon depictions of Muhammad as freedom of expression.

Macron defended the cartoon depictions of Muhammad after a young Muslim attacked and beheaded a French school teacher, who showed the images in class. Macron said that he understands the sentiments of the Muslim world, but he will always defend "the freedom to speak, to write, to think, to draw" in his country.

Adding to the demonstrators' agenda is the call for the release of their leader, Saad Hussain Rizvi, son of their former leader, Khadim Hussain Rizvi. The Lahore High Court declared Rizvi's detention illegal, spurring the demonstrators further towards violence. Reuters reported that the demonstrators were "deliberately employing violence."

Fawad Chaudhry, Pakistan's Information Minister, explained that Rizvi still needed to undergo a judicial process before being released.

Kamal Hyder, Al Jazeera's correspondent in Pakistan, said the "people of Islamabad have heaved a sigh of relief." "Everybody will now be waiting to see how this agreement will be implemented," he added.

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