The following mention appeared in The Express Tribune on April 30, 2021 at the following link
Interior Minister Sheikh Rashid on Friday formed a three-member committee to examine the legal aspects of an application filed by the proscribed Tehreek-e-Labbaik Pakistan (TLP) against the federal government’s decision to declare it a banned organisation.
Sources told The Express Tribune that the interior minister chaired a meeting called after the TLP filed a review application under section 11C (Right of Review) and 11EE (Proscription of Person) of the Anti-Terrorism Act (ATA), 1997.
The minister formed a committee under section 11CC of the ATA.
It states that the federal government shall “constitute a Proscription Review Committee comprising three government officers, including a representative of the law ministry, with the chairman of the committee being a person not below the rank of a joint secretary, to decide review applications within 30 days.
The federal government has failed to file a reference in the Supreme Court seeking the dissolution of the TLP.
On April 15 when the TLP was notified as a banned outfit, the interior minister had announced that a separate summary would be moved in the federal cabinet on April 16 and after its approval in the next two to three days, a reference would be filed in the top court for the group’s dissolution.
However, that never happened and it seems the interior minister’s announcement was made without realising that it could not be done without adopting the legal course of action.
“As per the ATA, the TLP can file review before interior ministry within 30 days,” Federal Information Minister Fawad Chaudhry said in response to a query.
The information minister added that the TLP had exercised its right and the interior ministry would now deal with the matter, not the cabinet.
The apparent shift in the government’s approach towards the hardline group came when it announced that the negotiations with the TLP were successful.
It was also evident when the government had to call a session of the National Assembly at the 11th hour to present a TLP-dictated resolution seeking debate on the expulsion of French ambassador from Pakistan over the publication of blasphemous caricatures in his country.
All this had happened amid statements from key government ministers, saying the government would not be blackmailed and strict action would be taken against the violators.
The government’s stance became stronger, especially, when clashes broke out between law enforcement agencies and the protesting TLP activists in Lahore.
However, soon after negotiations, the government has been releasing TLP activists and supporters arrested under the Maintenance of Public Order.
“The government’s assessment about the TLP’s reaction turned out to be incorrect. It quickly lost its nerves and retreated,” the president of the Pakistan Institute of Legislative Development And Transparency (PILDAT) Ahmed Bilal Mehboob said.
“The government appeared weak and those running the show were the weakest because they couldn’t do what they had said,” he added.
Apparently, the PILDAT president said, it was decided during negotiations that the government would not proceed with approaching the apex court for the dissolution.
It was also seemingly decided that the government would quickly take up the review application.
Mehboob, however, warned that any decision in haste would create further problems for the government at the international level, just like the EU parliament has urged to review Pakistan’s GSP plus status over the alleged abuse of blasphemy laws in the country.
“The government is incompetent and it is not dealing effectively with sensitive matters,” Mehboob said.
“This is why it is facing backlash both from within the country and the EU.”