Tehreek-e-Labbaik Pakistan (TLP) party’s activities and leaders have been taken into custody in all major cities of the country, following the arrest of the party chief Khadim Rizvi.
Security has been enhanced at the Faizabad interchange in Islamabad. This is where the party had earlier staged a weeks-long protest. TLP had staged violent protests over blasphemy laws, across Pakistan following the acquittal of Asia Bibi, a Christian, last month. The group had threatened the Supreme Court judges who acquitted Asia Bibi, even instigating their cooks and servants to kill them.
The Punjab chief minister’s office confirmed that Afzal Qadri, Rizvi’s second-in-command had been detained. According to Reuters, a crackdown is underway across Punjab against TLP activists. Pakistan’s Information Minister Fawwad Chaudhry tweeted the TLP chief had been arrested in protective custody after he refused to withdraw a call for further protests on Sunday. “It’s to safeguard public life, property and order,” he said.
Asia Bibi was convicted in 2010 for allegedly making derogatory remarks about Islam after her workmates objected to her drinking water from their glass because she was not a Muslim. While she has always denied committing blasphemy, she was convicted and sentenced.
Pakistan’s blasphemy laws have raked up controversy over the years, with critics saying that it’s being used to persecute the minority faiths.
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