Pakistan Lifts Ban on Islamic Extremist Group, Threatening Western Countries With ‘Security Challenges’
Pakistan dropped its ban on a violent Islamist group that led attempts to intimidate non-Muslims against sharing images and caricatures of the Muslim Prophet Muhammad last month, a move that a security analyst warns could create “security challenges” in Western countries.
Along with lifting the ban on Tehreek-e-Labaik Pakistan (TLP), the Pakistani government has released its leader Saad Rizvi and hundreds of members from prison, and will allow the group to participate in the political system, the BBC reported.
The TLP members were jailed after the group blocked major roadways to the capital during an April protest.
The TLP has been a leading supporter and enforcer of Pakistan’s blasphemy laws, which mandate a death sentence for insulting Islam or Muhammad, and once threatened to commit genocide against the Netherlands after a Dutch politician sponsored a contest for cartoons of the Islamic prophet.
The group has since focused its ire on France, where the staff of the satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo was massacred in 2015 by al-Qaeda terrorists for publishing cartoons of Muhammad.
Security analyst Amir Rana of the Pakistan Institute of Peace Studies said that there will be global reverberations from the decision to permit the group to operate legally.
“The world may not care about what is happening inside Pakistan, but there is concern about the TLP influencing the Pakistani diaspora and overseas communities in Europe and in the West,” Rana warned.
This, he said, could “create some security challenges” for Western countries.
The Pakistani government said it lifted the ban in order to head off a direct confrontation with TLP, though Information Minister Fawad Chaudhry said this had ominous implications.
“The way the state had to back off in the TLP’s case symbolizes that the bomb [of extremism] is ticking,” he stated.
Usman Ahsan, whose brother Irfan was brutally murdered by TLP members after a protest demanding Rizvi’s release, lamented the government’s move, saying, “We are so deeply hurt because those who killed him call themselves custodians of Islam, but I am not sure what kind of Islam they practice.”
“They have destroyed so many families and orphaned a little girl just to get [Rizvi] freed,” he said.