ISLAMABAD: Tehreek-e-Labbaik Pakistan (TLP) called off its protest rally in Islamabad late Thursday night after Dutch anti-Islam lawmaker announced to cancel a planned blasphemous caricatures contest in Netherlands.
“I have decided not to let the cartoon contest go ahead,” Geert Wilders said in a written statement on Thursday night.
Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) government has termed it a victory of the nation as it was made possible through diplomatic efforts on directions of Prime Minister Imran Khan.
“Cancellation of the cartoon contest in Netherlands is a great victory of Pakistani people and the government. Foreign Office’s efforts on the issue helped achieve this success,” Fawad Chaudhry, federal information minister, tweeted this shortly after Wilders announced to cancel the contest.
Earlier, thousands of protesters led by the TLP’s wheelchair-bound chief Khadim Hussain Rizvi had reached Islamabad and they were pressing the government to sever diplomatic relations with the Dutch government over the issue.
A government delegation led by Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi held talks with the TLP leadership in Islamabad following announcement of the cancellation of the blasphemous caricatures contest and succeeded in convincing them to call off their protest.
“Holland’s ambassador to Pakistan has confirmed to me cancellation of the controversial contest,” Qureshi said while talking to media persons. “We will still raise the issue in the United Nations and request our TLP brothers to disperse peacefully.”
Shortly after the Qureshi’s press talk, Khadim Rizvi announced to call off the protest rally, saying “thank God, our demand and mission have been achieved.”
Rizvi directed his followers to disperse peacefully, thanking them for coming out “for a noble cause.”
Earlier later Thursday night, Prime Minister Imran Khan also said in a video statement that “The matter of blasphemous caricature is an issue of every Muslim.” “We will stage a strong protest and will tell them (the West) that such acts hurt over a billion people of the world. It's unacceptable.”
Pakistan’s parliament has already unanimously condemned Wilders’ plans to hold the anti-Islam cartoon contest which encourages participants to draw caricatures of Prophet Muhammad (PBUH).