Many roads in Islamabad and Rawalpindi have been blocked with containers by the authorities ahead of yet another long march by the proscribed Tehreek-e-Labbaik Pakistan (TLP). In Rawalpindi, the metro bus service has been suspended in light of the planned protest.
The TLP had announced that the ‘peaceful’ long march would take place from Lahore to Islamabad after Friday prayers.
TLP leader Ajmal Qadri said that if the protestors are stopped by the authorities, the group has a ‘Plan B’ to foil those attempts.
Meanwhile, the TLP changed the main purpose of the march and said that it was being held for the ‘respect of the Holy Prophet (PBUH)’, and not too seek the outfit’s chief Saad Rizvi’s release — as was earlier suggested.
The protesting leaders called on the government to uphold the agreement signed with the group last November in which it vowed to end diplomatic ties with France over the matter of blasphemous caricatures.
On Tuesday, the TLP began a massive sit-in on Lahore’s Multan Road, near its headquarters. The sit-in has disrupted life in the surrounding areas of the location. Lahore police were on Thursday placed on high alert in light of the developing situation following the TLP protest on Multan Road. Mobile internet has been suspended in Samanabad, Iqbal Town and other areas around the sit-in location.
The notification to this effect was issued by the Ministry of Interior.
Interior Minister Sheikh Rashid, moments before the group’s long march announcement, said that no group can be allowed to take law into its hands. He added that the French ambassador in Pakistan cannot be expelled from the country on the whims of a party.