By Zia Ur Rehman

Karachi

January 2, 2019

Amid ongoing against the Tehreek-e-Labbaik Pakistan across the country, including Karachi, the religious group claimed that its candidate has been barred from taking part in the by-polls in the PS-94 constituency.

The seat was fallen vacant after the death of the Mutahida Qaumi Movement-Pakistan’s MPA Muhammad Wajahat on November 27. He won the seat by securing 32729 votes in July 25 general polls while the TLP’s candidate ranked second by bagging 14030 votes. The by-polls in the constituency, comprising lower-income nieghbourhoods of Landhi, are scheduled on January 24.

The TLP Karachi chief Allama Razi Hussaini Naqashbandi said that despite ranking second in the general election in the constituency, his party has been kept out on the by-polls by the government. “Our candidate was not allowed to submit nomination forms for the by-polls and through threats, illegal arrests and harassment, we are not allowed to continue our electoral activities,” said Naqashbandi.

He said that the TLP was a registered political party and third largest party in Sindh Assembly.

The government started a crackdown against the TLP, a Barelvi group, after the group announced to start a massive protest in Islamabad against the court acquittal of Asia Bibi, a Christian woman previously sentenced to death for blasphemy. More than 1000 workers of the TLP and other Barelvi groups have been arrested and his central chief Allama Khadim Hussain Rizvi had been taken into “protective custody.”

However, dozens of the TLP’s detained members announced to leave the religious party in recent weeks after signing agreements with the law enforcement agencies, the TLP sources told The News.

Apparently helping its two male Sindh parliamentarians avoid being arrested in an ongoing crackdown, the TLP on December 3 had asked its female member of the provincial assembly to show its concerns over arrests of its workers across the country, including Karachi.

Sarwat Fatima, the TLP’s lone woman MPA, along with few women leaders, spoke to a presser at the Karachi Press Club, saying that a number of workers and leaders had been arrested in the crackdown and the whereabouts of a large number of workers were also unknown.

Before it, the Pakstian Sunni Tehreek, which supported the TLP in their sit-ins across the country, announced to stay away from the Rizvi’s party cand said that the PST and Ahle Sunnat community is peaceful and always condemned the hate speeches and violence.

The TLP and its aggressive stance on blasphemy issues have attracted a significant number of like-minded and aggressive people, especially from the PST.

Traditionally, most of the Barelvi groups, except the PST, enjoyed a reputation of moderation and non-violence as followers of Sufism. But in recent years, especially after Taseer’s murder, Barelvi groups, especially the TLP, have become more violent on blasphemy-related issues and are gaining political and street power within their community.

No Barelvi group is on the Ministry of Interior’s roll of proscribed outfits. Two years ago, Sindh’s law enforcement agencies had asked the federal government to mount a watch on the TLP, saying that the outfit has been morphing into a militant outfit. The PST was on the interior ministry’s watch list for several years, but then it was taken off of it.

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