19th Nov, 2020 Khadim Hussain Rizvi, leader of Pakistan’s most prominent religious party died because of cardiac arrest. Khadim led the most charged up Sunni-Barelvi movement in the last two years. From intense rhetoric to unapologetic threats, he set a new tone of political Islam within the region. For the past few years we have witnessed a populist wave in world politics. Religion which was clearly a matter of faith in the past, is now defining the discourse of identity politics. In the context of Pakistan, Tehreek-i-Labaik mobilized around the most controversial and sensitive topic; blasphemy. But where it all began?
Background: Unlike any other political party TLP was not formed over a period of time rather came to the political surface as a reactionary movement.
TLP was founded in 2016 following the execution of Mumtaz Qadri. The bodyguard policeman murdered the Punjab governor Salman Taseer, in 2011, after he publicly voiced his support for Bibi.
The new party stepped up to give a voice to right-wing, conservative Islamist views. Until its participation in the by-election for Lahore’s National Assembly constituency in September 2017, the party was relatively unknown. But the results surprised many of Pakistan’s political elite when the TLP secured nearly 8% of total votes cast. This new political party quickly dominated headlines with a manifesto that included promises to make Pakistan a welfare state, to end terrorism and corruption, and to uphold the sanctity of Islam’s Holy Prophet.
TLP polled over 2.23 million votes in the national assembly elections, its first general election, and more than 2.38 million provincial votes, election commission website data shows
Climax: The party again attracted attention when it spearheaded a protest in November 2017 calling for the law minister Zahid Hamid to resign for his alleged role in changing the wording of the oath taken by parliamentarians – which the group deemed blasphemous
Though Hamid resigned, apologised and assured the nation that he believed in the finality of the prophet – these events pushed TLP into the nation’s political consciousness. In the general elections of July 2018, TLP fielded 744 candidates. This time the party bagged a significant number of votes and won two seats in Sindh province, gaining recognition as a new religious and political force in a very short space of time.
The Pakistani supreme court’s acquittal of Bibi in October 2018 came as a severe blow to the ideology on which TLP had been founded. Thousands of angry supporters blocked roads and motorways, while one of its leaders, Pir Afzal Qadri stated that the killing of those who overturned the verdict was justifiable.
The faizabad protest set a tone from TLP leadership towards the government bodies either executive or judiciary.
More Climax: TLP leaders especially Khadim Rizvi got more critical of state institutions after the Faizabad sit-in. So much so that Khadim start threatening the armed forces for not protecting the sanctity of Islam as they should be. For a common Sunni conservative men TLP hardcore macho politics provided validation and reinforcement of already established hegemony.
In 2018, TLP faced a blowback for dragging the Armed Forces in their angry speeches. In result around 5000 TLP supporters were arrested. The government also went after TLP leaders Afzal Qadri and Khadim Hussain Rizvi, charging them with sedition and terrorism. These circumstances took TLP out of the mainstream spotlight for a while.
Dramatic comeback: In mid-October the French blasphemous caricature of Holy Prophet SAWW came to surface. This incident provided the opportunity and enthusiasm to TLP supporters to again occupy the streets, spoiler alert, they did.
Massive crowd amid a raging pandemic protest on the favourite spot, The Faizabad interchange. As one can already assume, violence erupted among police forces and the protesters. This time the government handled the situation pragmatically.
But everything turned bad for TLP supporters when on Thursday, their beloved leader died from cardiac arrest in Lahore. Khadim Rizvi’s funeral had a record number of participants.
From Prime Minister to Chief of Army Staff, every government official offered their condolences.
Just a side note he was the same person who gave fatwa against government officials and called name to literally every state institution of Pakistan
Khadim has died and we are not sure what will happen to TLP now. All we are left with his warmongering hate filled rhetoric and some very overzealous supporters to kill anyone who disagree with their version of Islam.