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Tuesday February 07, 2023

Deal with the TLP

By Editorial Board
November 06, 2021

It appears to be a hard nut to crack: the TLP is banned – no, it is proscribed. Is it a legitimate body? No, but we want it to be one. Is it a militant organisation? No, but it perhaps killed our policemen who had orders not to use force. Do we want to embrace those who take entire cities hostage? No, but we can negotiate with them not to do it again. And, finally, do we have an assurance that the TLP will not march on Islamabad again? Well, we will try to persuade them not to – and the list goes on. The state of Pakistan has not been lenient to those who criticise it for its failures in domestic and foreign policies. From the concocted Rawalpindi Conspiracy Case of 1951 to the Hyderabad Conspiracy Case of 1975 to the recent allegations against the Bhutto and Sharif families of working on an Indian agenda to civil rights movements, political opponents and even lone dissenters usually face censure by the state and government.

But when it comes to those who disturb the peace and destroy private and public property at will, the state is nearly always short of a stern hand. Talk about possible talks with the TTP is still fresh in our minds – and now we see this almost capitulation to the TLP. State institutions were at the receiving end for over a week. Hate speech was circulating at breakneck speed, threats were being hurled at convenience, and very few government leaders or functionaries were vocal in condemning those who were responsible for all this mayhem. There is no doubt that the government had imposed a ban on the TLP, but still it escaped the treatment that other meagre dissenters have to endure every now and then.

Pakistan has become a country associated with the possibility of terrorism. The country’s people and government were all concerned when the New Zealand cricket team withdrew from its matches in Pakistan, and then the English team followed suit. Now what signal are we sending by appeasing an entity that has emerged as a threat to life and security in the country? One day the PTI leaders accuse the TLP of having links with RAW, and the next day they want them to join the mainstream. Our decision-makers and power wielders must think twice before blurting out announcements of various types. Tolerance for miscreants and intolerance for dissenters is not going unnoticed by the world community. Our government and state must be fairly circumspect while treading on the road to reconciliation with rioters.

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