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Tuesday Apr 20 2021
Web Desk

'It's your mess — clean it up or go home,' Bilawal tells PM Imran Khan

Web Desk
Prime Minister Imran Khan (L) and PPP chairperson Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari during a press conference (R). Photo: File
  • Bilawal criticises govt for not bringing TLP issue to Parliament in the first place
  • PPP leader says PTI had not brought the agreement it signed with the TLP to Parliament either
  • PTI now wants to hide behind NA, says Bilawal; says his party will not participate in any engagement on the matter

PPP Chairperson Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari has told PM Imran Khan that the law and order situation in the country following clashes with the banned Tehreek-e-Labbaik Pakistan (TLP) is the premier's mess to fix and has suggested that the prime minister either "clean it up or go home". 

The tweet from the PPP leader came a few hours after Interior Minister Sheikh Rasheed said the government would present a resolution in the National Assembly seeking the expulsion of the French envoy and withdraw cases against members of the outlawed TLP. 

Bilawal referenced the violence that occured over the past week involving protests by the proscribed organisation, subsequent clashes with police and the government's decision to ban the TLP as a terrorist entity. 

He criticised the prime minister for not bringing the issue to the National Assembly in the first place. 

"Agreement wasn't brought to NA, govt took action on streets, then banned [the TLP], people killed, over 500 policemen injured, closed internet, PM didn’t make statement in NA, didn't take NA into confidence at any stage. Now PTI wants to hide behind NA. It’s your mess PM, clean up or go home," he tweeted. 

Government bans TLP after spate of violence across Pakistan

Four police officers were martyred and over 600 were injured in clashes all over Pakistan last week. Workers and supporters of the TLP had taken to the streets against the arrest of their party's leader, Saad Rizvi. 

The government said it had arrested Rizvi as talks between both sides broke down after it emerged the religiopolitical party was planning on marching to Islamabad to hold a sit-in protest. 

The TLP has sought the expulsion of the French ambassador from Pakistan over French President Emmanuel Macron's support for blasphemous sketches of Holy Prophet (PBUH). 

The government said it agreed to present a resolution in the National Assembly over the expulsion of the French ambassador. 

The interior ministry then moved to ban the TLP under the anti-terrorism law last week.

Interior Minister Sheikh Rasheed had said the decision was taken at the Punjab government's request.

"We are forwarding a summary to the federal cabinet to impose a ban on the TLP," Rasheed had said in Islamabad. 

A few days later, the Punjab government's home department said TLP chief Saad Rizvi's assets have been frozen, and his national identity card has been blocked — which means he cannot conduct transactions via banks, nor can he sell or purchase any property.

Similarly, the National Counter-Terrorism Authority, a day earlier, placed TLP on the proscribed organisations list.

Outlawed TLP's protests to end across country

After a clash between protesters and police in Lahore, the government moved to hold talks with the TLP leadership again.

A government delegation, comprising the interior minister, Minister for Religious Affairs Dr Noorul Haq Qadri, SAPM Tahir Ashrafi, Governor Punjab Mohammad Sarwar and Punjab Law Minister Raja Basharat, held talks with members of the proscribed group in Lahore on Tuesday.

Following the negotiations, the interior minister, in a video statement, had said protests across Pakistan, including the one outside the headquarters of the religiopolitical group, will end.

He had said that, reciprocally, all cases, including those filed under the fourth schedule, against members of banned TLP would be withdrawn.

Rashid had said he would hold a press conference sometime later today to share details. 

“[Meanwhile] talks will continue with them,” he said.

'Sending ambassadors back will not end Islamophobia'

Before the final round of talks, Prime Minister Imran Khan in an address to the nation had reminded citizens that Pakistan was built on the principles of Islam.

He stressed that the government was on the same page with the TLP regarding the protection of Prophet Muhammad (PBUH)'s honour; however, expelling the ambassador of France was not the solution to the problem.

"The West has made this an issue of freedom of speech and if we send back the French ambassador, some other European country will follow suit," PM Imran Khan had said.

He had warned that if Pakistan starts sending back ambassadors of different countries, the economy will suffer, but it will not make a difference to France or any other country.