Imran Khan government’s accord with banned Tehreek-i-Labbaik Pakistan ‘upsets’ Punjab police

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Lahore: The Punjab police senior command seemed upset on Thursday (April 22) at what it calls `premature and unnecessary accord` between the Imran Khan government and the banned Tehreek-i-Labbaik Pakistan (TLP), after many of its policemen were held hostages, including one of its Deputy Superintendent of Police (DSP) in Punjab brutally tortured by the religious organization during the three-day protest by TLP supporters.

Some senior officials said the decision of the government not only demoralized the police force but also gave a message to such groups that “the state may withdraw any step any time on any pressure”, reported Dawn.

The police officers warned that the release of hundreds of activists of the proscribed TLP [without punishment] would be disastrous for the personnel who took part in the operation.

Commenting on the issue, police officers alleged that the accord “disgraced” the sacrifices of the force which has always been used as a `scapegoat.` They lamented that the successive rulers had been using police for political interests, reported Dawn.

“The police force is first launched and then abused”, one of the senior police officers commented without mincing words while talking to this reporter in the wake of the TLP-government agreement.

He said the Punjab police`s senior command had shown [in many formal and informal meetings] strong resentment on the `deal` of the government to release activists.”

The state, after an `illogical` deal, has thrown our police force in front of the extremists of a proscribed organization.

“Can there be anything crueler and more exploitative?”, he said. He declared the accord an unprecedented decision and a step towards a failed state.

The reactions of the Punjab police officers came when Federal Interior Minister Shaikh Rasheed read out details of the accord and released a video statement in this regard.

In the video statement, the minister said the government has agreed to release all the activists who were placed in the old and new Fourth Schedule, reported Dawn.

Four policemen were killed, while around 1,000 others were injured during the protest led by TLP, demanding that the French ambassador be sent home and import of goods from France be banned over blasphemous caricatures published in French magazine Charlie Hebdo.

During the three days of countrywide protests, hundreds of protesters and police personnel were injured and thousands of TLP activists and supporters were arrested and booked for attacking law enforcement personnel and blocking main roads and highways in protest against the arrest of their leader Saad Hussain Rizvi.

Several police vehicles were torched, buildings were attacked and policemen were kidnapped and tortured by the activists of the TLP across the Punjab province.

The Punjab government on Tuesday (April 20)  released 734 out of a total of 5,500 supporters, workers, activists, and leaders of the TLP who were arrested/detained from all over Punjab, reported Dawn. 

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