Pakistan was founded as a country for Muslims, not an Islamic state. However, decades of indoctrination in schools and covert and overt support by the Pakistani deep state have created a society that comes out in thousands to venerate those who espouse violence against others. We witnessed this when thousands came out for the funeral of Mumtaz Qadri, who gunned down Governor of Punjab,
Salmaan Taseer, and we just witnessed it on Sunday November 21, when thousands came out to mourn firebrand cleric and chief of Tehreek-i-Labbaik Pakistan (TLP) Khadim Hussain Rizvi.
Khadim Hussain Rizvi was an expletive spouting Islamic cleric who was a Barelvi, not Deobandi or Wahhabi. “Rizvi channelised the common belief among a majority of Pakistanis that there is no forgiveness for blasphemy, weaponised it for his political ends, and turned it into raw street power. He did not have to indulge in terrorist violence, yet was more successful than any other extremist group in getting his way with those in power too. At the very least, he forced successive governments to perish the thought of reforming the draconian blasphemy laws. And he was repeatedly able to target and undermine civilian governments.”
His rise of power started in 2011 when he championed the cause of Salmaan Taseer’s assassin, Mumtaz Qadri, Rizvi started a campaign in support of blasphemy laws and for the release of Qadri. In 2015, Rizvi founded Tehreek-e-Labaik Ya Rasoolullah (TLYRA) in 2015 to prevent reforms of Pakistan’s strict blasphemy laws. When Qadri was hanged in 2016, Rizvi and his supporters “swarmed Islamabad and sat on a dharna on the day of his chelum, the 40th day after death.” TLYRA protestors demanded that Qadri be declared a martyr and wanted the conversion of his Adiala Jail cell into a national heritage site.
Rizvi and his followers returned and laid siege to the capital in 2017 again on the issue of blasphemy. This time “the trigger for the protest was an attempt to reform the election laws, which Rizvi alleged was aimed at diluting the anti-Ahmadi provisions. Finally the Pakistani Army, which had refused to use force to evict the protestors, brokered a deal that was effectively a total surrender by the government. Not only was the amendment rolled back, the Law Minister also resigned after issuing an apology.”
Rizvi renamed the party TLP (Tehreek e Labaik Pakistan) and under this banner contested the 2018 elections, winning 4.2 percent of the national votes, emerging as the 5th largest party. One week before his death Rizvi had “summoned his followers to march on Islamabad in protest against French President Emmanuel Macron’s stand in favour of free speech and the cartoons of Prophet Mohammed. In his speeches at the protests, Rizvi also launched scathing attacks against former PM Nawaz Sharif who had accused Army chief Gen Qamar Javed Bajwa of conspiring with the judiciary to oust him. Rizvi accused Sharif of working to the agenda of outsiders.”
Further, Rizvi even called on Pakistan to “launch nuclear attacks against France for its alleged act of “Islamophobia” after the European country vowed to fight radical Islamic terrorism.” This was not the first time Rizvi had threatened the use of atom bombs on another country. In 2018, Rizvi had threatened Netherlands in wake of the Danish cartoon competition depicting the Prophet Muhammad.
“Watch out for the Netherlands, Rizvi had declared that if he was given “the atomic bomb” he would “wipe Holland off the face of this earth” if she allowed a cartoon contest depicting the Prophet Muhammad. “If they gave me the atomic bomb, I would take Holland off the face of the earth before they could hold a cartoon contest… I would wipe them off the face of this earth,” Tehreek-i founder said. -Labbaik Pakistan.”
At his death, the city of Lahore witnessed one of the largest funeral gatherings ever with thousands of mourners, followers and fans gathered around Minar e Pakistan for the Namaz e Janaza of Rizvi.
According to The News “three of these largest funerals in Lahore (Ghazi Ilm Din Shaheed, Maulana Wahab, Emir of Raiwind Tableeghi Jamaat and now religious cleric Khadim Rizvi) have incidentally been witnessed during the month of November, and in all these instances, local administration of the time had to be involved along with the respective bereaved families to keep the traffic running and maintain law and order in some cases. The prayers were led by the late Rizvi’s son, Saad Hussain Rizvi, who was then chosen by the party’s shura to lead the Tehreek-i-Labbaik Pakistan (TLP).”Further “In between steady rhythmic chanting of ‘Labbaik, Labbaik, Labbaik Ya Rasool Allah’ announcements were made on the public address system that informed people even three hours before the scheduled prayers that the gates to the park had been closed after it had been filled to capacity. Soon, the mourners filled the Badshahi Mosque, then adjacent grounds of Minar-i-Pakistan, next came roads around the venue and by the time the funeral actually took place, at least three-kilometre radius around the venue had been turned into a venue for the prayers.”
What does Rizvi’s rise, his popularity, and the large crowds attending his funeral tell us: That the hydra headed monsters created by the Pakistani deep state now threaten to take over the country. Does it not tell us that extremism advocated by him represents more than just a fringe?