Rizvi behind bars


Finally A month later and in a rather bold manner, the government has detained Khadim Rizvi. The chief of the politico-religious party, Tehreek-e-Labbaik Pakistan (TLP), was taken into custody from his residence in Lahore on Friday evening.inally, Prime Minister Imran Khan seems to take seriously his commitment made in the national address in late October, regarding religious hardliners taking law in their own hands. Mr Khan had then warned that the state would take serious action against those trying to disrupt peace.

Soon after hell broke loose as TLP’s supporters clashed with police in the eastern city of Lahore. The scuffles following his arrest left at least five people wounded. To much dismay, Mr Rizvi’s fanbase plans to lock the country down as well. Earlier in the day, he had urged his supporters to take to the streets if and when he was arrested.

Taking prior events in consideration, it would be fair to assume that the state should be ready to lock horns with another violent cascade of supporters.

Yet, all prospects of anarchy aside, Mr Rizvi’s arrest is a much-needed move, which should be appreciated in the strongest of words.  For quite some time now, the ultra-right preacher was creating chaos throughout the country,

The hardline-group-turned-political-party derives its power from a single issue, namely ensuring the complete implementation of Pakistan’s harsh blasphemy laws (under which blasphemy is punishable by death). Although the TLP did not manage to secure even a single seat to the National Assembly in the general polls held in July 2018, it still exercises great street power. Their recent protest caused a havoc across the country, which caused losses worth millions to the government as properties were damaged. The prime minister had then promised a concrete action against these perpetrators.

However, within two days, the PTI government—following the pattern of the previous PML-N government—signed a deal with the protesters; giving in to a key demand that Bibi would not be allowed to leave the country. Now, the state cannot guarantee her security without keeping her in a prison cell. The liberals who had rallied behind Mr Khan turned away. Once the protesters had, nonetheless, disbanded, the government started registering cases against them—over five thousand within a day—for destroying property and inciting violence.

PTI’s roughly 100-day tenure has been a rollercoaster ride for Pakistan’s liberals—a tiny bunch—who fully expected Mr Khan to cave to extremists, given his past (specifically his goading of the TLP during its 2017 protests, and occassional expressions of sympathy with Tehreek-e-Tahaffuz-e-Pakistan). But twice so far, he has confused them; indicating a refreshingly progressive approach. This arrest is the way forward and reiterates that people who try to take law into their own hands should always be punished. Such elements spreading intolerance and inciting people to indulge in violence need to be swiftly dealt with. After a long time, Pakistan is heading towards a progressive direction. Ergo, all elements hindering its development in the name of psuedo-faith need to be taken care off.