TLP chief Saad Rizvi
released from jail, will
announce plan today

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LAHORE: Tehreek-i-Labbaik Pakistan (TLP) chief Hafiz Saad Hussain Rizvi was released from Kot Lakhpat jail in Lahore on Thursday. TLP spokesperson Mufti Abid also confirmed the development and told Dawn.com that Rizvi had reached the party’s headquarters, Rehmatul Lil Alameen Mosque, after his release. An urs to commemorate the death anniversary of the TLP chief’s father and the group’s founder, Khadim Hussain Rizvi, will be held at the mosque tomorrow.

Rizvi has been released after the withdrawal of a reference filed in the Supreme Court’s federal review board regarding his detention and the removal of his name from the Fourth Schedule — a list of proscribed individuals who are suspected of terrorism or sectarianism under the Anti-Terrorism Act (ATA), 1997 — last week.

A notification issued by the Punjab Home Department dated November 10 stated that the “name of Hafiz Mohammad Saad, being Ameer of Tehreek-i-Labbaik Pakistan, a proscribed organisation, was listed in the Fourth Schedule of Anti-Terrorism Act, 1997, under Section 11-E on the recommendations of District Intelligence Committee, Lahore.”

Tehreek-i-Labbaik Pakistan (TLP) chief Hafiz Saad Hussain Rizvi

It noted that the government had removed the TLP from the First Schedule of the Act as a proscribed organisation on Nov 7.

“Therefore, name of Hafiz Mohammad Saad is hereby deleted from the list of 4th Schedule of Anti-Terrorism Act, 1997, with immediate effect,” it stated.

Police had arrested Rizvi on April 12 this year ahead of planned protests by the TLP. The next day, police registered a first information report (FIR) against the TLP chief under sections of the ATA.

Rizvi was detained by the Punjab government for “maintenance of public order (MPO)”. He was initially detained for three months and then again under the Anti-Terrorist Act on July 10. His name was placed on the Fourth Schedule shortly after, on April 16.

Activists and supporters of Tehreek-i-Labbaik Pakistan (TLP)

The government had declared the TLP a proscribed outfit under the anti-terror law in April this year, after three days of violent protests by the group’s activists across the country.

Rizvi’s release follows days of protest by the TLP and an agreement with the government last month.

The protest, primarily launched to exert pressure on the Punjab government for Rizvi’s release and the expulsion of the French ambassador over blasphemous sketches of Holy Prophet Muhammad (PBUH), started on October 20 in Lahore and soon turned violent.

The situation seemed to improve only after negotiations between the TLP and government started on Oct 30, with the members of the negotiating team from the government side claiming the next day that they had reached an “agreement” with the proscribed group but refused to divulge its details.

Sources had told Dawn the TLP was assured that the government would not pursue minor cases against the TLP leadership and workers, but the cases registered under the Anti-Terrorism Act would be decided by courts. It also assured the TLP leadership that it would unfreeze the accounts and assets of group and take steps to lift the ban on it.