The Pakistan government has taken its first steps to tackle religious extremism by legally banning radical Islamist party Tehreek-e-Labbaik Pakistan (TLP) under the Terrorism Act. Prime Minister Imran Khan’s government banned TLP after its supporters and the law enforcement officials clashed for several days leaving seven people dead and 300 personnel injured.
The Pakistan government also placed a temporary ban on social media and instant messaging platforms like Facebook, Twitter, WhatsApp, etc., to maintain public order but later restored the platforms. The bans came a day after the French embassy advised French companies and French nationals in the country to leave the country temporarily amid the rallies led by the extremist party. Several political parties across the world use social media platforms to mobilise supporters.
TLP supporters are holding nationwide protests against the arrest of TLP chief Saad Hussain Rizwi by the Pakistan government. The arrest comes ahead of the party’s deadline to the Imran Khan government demanding the expulsion of the French Ambassador over the publication of cartoons of Prophet Muhammad in France.
Amid the ongoing protests, 800 Indian Sikhs arrived in Lahore through the Wagah border on Monday to attend the Baisakhi festival in Gurdwara Panja Sahib Hassanabdal in Rawalpindi. The Pakistani Police and the Rangers escorted the Indians. The police and the Rangers cleared TLP supporters from the streets and roads leading to the city.
One must note, that Imran Khan’s government had signed an agreement with the TLP agreeing to expel the French ambassador in November last year over the cartoons. However, the Pakistan government did nothing and the protests intensified. This made the Pakistan government extend the agreement to April 20. However, the government is yet to keep its word.
Experts believe that the protests taking place in Pakistan are due to Imran Khan’s failed policies. Currently, Pakistan was going through socio-economic problems but worsened due to the implementation of the government’s failed policies.
Seeing the protest, the government decided to place a ban on social media so that the radical political party cannot mobilize its supporters. When a situation gets out of hand, the Central government places a temporary ban on social media. We have seen such incidents taking place in India where the Centre ordered internet shutdown during protests and rallies. This way, communication is shut down and the right to freedom of speech is curtailed.