After weeks of blowing hot and cold, Prime Minister Imran Khan’s government surrendered to the demands of a terrorist group. For the seventh time in five years the Tehreek-i-Labbaik Pakistan (TLP) has brought the state to its knees.
As analyst and author Zahid Hussain notes, “The group that does not have any representation in the national parliament and has been proscribed as a terrorist outfit seeks to determine the country’s political and ideological course.”
As Hussain notes, “The TLP’s main support comes from the urban and rural lower-middle classes and traders. It has also made inroads into the support base of other established Islamic parties which have been virtually wiped out in Punjab. The frequent agitations are seen as a way of keeping the TLP politically alive and maintaining its financial lifeline.”
According to Hussain, “The TLP has once again made the country hostage, attacking the civilian law-enforcement agencies. The confusion was manifested in the contradictory statements emanating from federal ministers. The widening gap between the civil and military leadership may have also been a reason for the policy disarray. The administration appeared completely helpless against a few thousand zealots blocking the highways.”
Hussain concludes by stating: “The deal has legitimised a banned terrorist group. The crisis is far from over. Emboldened by their latest triumph, the radical clerics will soon be back with new demands. The country remains hostage to a terrorist band threatening to tear apart national security.”