Hundreds of TLP workers protesting the arrest of their leader Saad Hussain Rizvi blocked busy roads in major cities, stranding commuters for hours.
The TLP chief was taken into custody in Lahore over his demand to implement an agreement his party had signed with the government last year on the issue of publication of blasphemous caricatures in France.
Ambulances with blaring sirens and carrying coronavirus and other patients to hospitals were stuck in traffic jams in Lahore, Karachi, Rawalpindi and many other cities. Small groups of TLP workers carrying batons threw stones on passing vehicles, smashed their windows and took over major intersections on the GT road, disrupting traffic.
The TLP had given a deadline of April 20 to the government to meet its demands, including the expulsion of the French ambassador from Pakistan, over the blasphemous caricatures. The government had agreed on tabling a resolution in the parliament before Eidul Fitr based on the demands of Tehreek-e-Labbaik Pakistan (TLP).
Sources said several rounds of talks were held between the government and the TLP leadership on the issue. However, the TLP was adamant to meet its demands before the deadline of April 20.
The agreement with the TLP came on February 10 where the government committee headed by Religious Affairs Minister Noorul Haq Qadri assured to take up the matter before the Parliament, and the group agreed on ending the sit-in at Faizabad, Islamabad, after a violent day of protest.
The detention by the police in Lahore sparked the protests that soon spread to several major cities leading to massive roadblocks. A spokesperson of the National Highway and Motorway Police in a traffic advisory for the public confirmed road closures at major intersections on the GT Road, and on several interchanges on the Motorways from Peshawar to Lahore.
An official source told APP that despite assurance by the government to present the agreement before the National Assembly to condemn the blasphemous acts being carried out in many countries of the West, the TLP rejected the process and stuck to its demands.
The source said that the government, led by Prime Minister Imran Khan had vociferously addressed the issue of blasphemy and Islamophobia at all international fora including the United Nations.
The Federal Cabinet on October 20 while taking strong exception to the publication of blasphemous caricatures in France and hurting the sentiments of billions, said in the strongest terms the remarks of French President Emmanuel Macron that hurt the religious sentiments of Muslims.
During the meeting, it was reiterated that every available forum would be used for the effective representation of the sentiments of Muslims regarding the blasphemous caricatures.
Central Vice [Amir] President TLP Syed Zaheer ul Hassan Shah in a video message asked all TLP leaders and workers to “come out of their homes where ever they are … protest on roads and jam the entire country.”
The unannounced protest by the charged TLP workers, who were seen carrying batons in many a video shared by people struck on roads in various cities, led to an equally strong reaction from the public who termed blocking of roads and causing pain to the road users as totally unIslamic.
Social Media users shared Hadith wherein Abu Huraira reported as saying that Holy Prophet (PBUH) said; “While a man was walking in the road, he found a thorny branch in the road and he moved it aside. Allah appreciated his deed and forgave him.”