Policemen help an injured colleague during a clash with supporters of Tehreek-e-Labbaik Pakistan (TLP) party while they protest against the arrest of their leader in Lahore on Wednesday. Photograph:( AFP )
Interior Minister Sheikh Rashid Ahmed told the media that the Tehreek-i-Labaik Pakistan (TLP) was being banned under the Rule 11-B of Anti-Terrorism Act of 1997
Pakistan on Wednesday decided to ban a radical Islamist party under the Terrorism Act after its supporters clashed with the law enforcement agencies for the third consecutive day, leaving seven persons dead and over 300 policemen injured.
Interior Minister Sheikh Rashid Ahmed told the media that the Tehreek-i-Labaik Pakistan (TLP) was being banned under the Rule 11-B of Anti-Terrorism Act of 1997.
"I have approved a proposal sent by the government of Punjab to ban the TLP," he said. "We have also warned those who are funding the TLP."
Ahmed said that at least two police officials were killed and 340 others injured in clashes with the protestors during the last two days.
There were media reports that at least two protestors were also killed.
The announcement came hours after the Pakistani Rangers cleared the major thoroughfares of the country following sporadic clashes with TLP supporters in some towns and cities.
The TLP had launched the country-wide protest on Monday after the arrest of its chief Saad Hussain Rizvi ahead of April 20 deadline the Islamists had given to the Imran Khan government for the expulsion of the French ambassador for publication. The demand was made over the publishing of cartoons of Prophet Muhammad in France.
The TLP, which bagged 2.5 million votes in the 2018 general elections, blocked roads across the country following the arrest of Saad Rizvi, son of Khadim Hussain Rizvi, who died a few months ago.
The minister said that all motorways and highways had been cleared and the main choking point in major cities had also been cleared for traffic.
Over 800 Indian Sikhs, who arrived in Lahore via Wagah border on Monday to attend Vaisakhi festival in Gurdwara Panja Sahib Hassanabdal, Rawalpindi, finally reached their destination on Wednesday morning.
On Tuesday afternoon, the visiting Indian Sikhs left Lahore for Gurdwara Panja Sahib Hassanabdal in 25 buses, which were escorted by police and Rangers. "Owing to the TLP protest that blocked roads, the Sikh yatrees reached Hassanabdal at 4 am Wednesday after over 14 hours journey which otherwise is covered in three hours," an official of the Punjab government said.
The law enforcement agencies claim to have arrested over 2,000 TLP workers across the country mostly from Punjab.
Ahmed said that "the government will deal with an iron fist with those who take the law into their own hands".
He said Rangers would remain deployed in all major cities of the country during the month of Ramadan to maintain law and order.
(With inputs from agencies)