Pak’s appeasement policy towards TLP will cost long-term peace and stability


November 07, 2021 1:07 AM STI

Islamabad [Pakistan], November 7 (ANI): The appeasement policy of the Pakistani government Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) led by Imran Khan towards the religious group Tehreek-e-Labaik Pakistan (TLP) will cost the long-term peace and stability of ‘Islamabad.
Abdul Basit Khan, a researcher at the S Rajaratnam School of International Studies, Singapore, told Arab News that the TLP is the long-term price the state is paying for its short-term myopic policies. Following what happened in the long marches and political style of the TLP, the state is at a crossroads.
Since the Faizabad sit-in in 2017, the TLP’s long marches to Islamabad, with the exception of 2019, have become an annual spectacle. Each year, the TLP besieges Islamabad and returns after securing concessions from the government of the day by pointing a gun to its temple. In doing so, it acquires more strength, political space and ideological prowess.
After blowing hot and cold for two weeks, the surrender of the ruling Pakistani government, Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) to TLP demands, captures the pitfalls of using radical religious groups for political gain to short term that lead to catastrophic long term consequences.
The powerlessness and instinctive responses of the PTI government to the TLP’s long march also underscore the state’s lack of imagination and viable strategies to deal with sectarian extremism, which is now seeping into the country. dominant political space, Arab News reported.
The TLP-PTI impasse is not yet completely resolved because the former remains in Wazirabad until the release of its leader Saad Hussain Rizvi and the lifting of the ban.
Saad’s release and TLP’s success in forcing the PTI government to lift the ban would energize his inflammatory narrative ahead of the next general election.
This will further increase the TLP’s appeal to the lower middle class and working class, reeling from skyrocketing inflation, unemployment and poverty, Abdul Basit Khan said.
Despite sporadic incidents of single actor terrorism on the part of its members, the TLP does not profess systematic violence to achieve its stated political goals. Instead, he uses disruptive politics, vandalism, protest rallies, long marches, and sit-ins as his preferred modus operandi. At the same time, however, TLP has not discouraged the killings of isolated actors by its agents.

Therefore, the TLP may be located at the intersection of violent and non-violent extremism if it is classified from the typological frameworks of terrorism studies, i.e. there are incidents of terrorism isolated, but the group as a whole is extremist but not terrorist, Arab News reported. .
TLP’s hybrid nature and grassroots penetration make it a difficult problem to crack politically, ideologically and legally, said Abdul Basit Khan
The TLP, like all other religious groups in Pakistan, has both formal and informal mobilization structures to advance its ideological and political interests. Officially, it is registered with the Election Commission of Pakistan as a political party and stands for election to gain political legitimacy and integrate its program.
Informally, it functions as a movement, i.e. Tehreek-e-Labaik Ya Rasoolullah, to exert street pressure on the political system to compensate for its low electoral weight.
If the one-off bans, arbitrary arrests and mainstream media censorship had worked, TLP would have been confined to the trash of history, Abdul Basit Khan said.
Since its emergence in the political-religious landscape of Pakistan, the TLP has taken anti-blasphemy activism to a whole new level. For example, in 2020, no less than 200 incidents of blasphemy accusations were recorded in Pakistan. This year, that figure climbed to 234 cases of blasphemy allegations as of mid-October.
These disturbing statistics reveal the pull of the TLP’s ideological narrative and its fallout, i.e. growing religious intolerance, shrinking space for free speech, and the state’s inability to rationalize. religious discourse in Pakistan.
In this hostile environment, no one dares even think of reforming the procedural shortcomings of blasphemy laws, which have often been circumvented.
Pakistan will have to decide what kind of political regime it wants, one that bends over backwards to appease these groups so that they retain their mandate at the expense of long-term peace and stability, or vice versa, said Abdul Basit Khan. (ANI)

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