Tens of thousands attend funeral of hardline Pakistani cleric in Lahore

Activists and supporters of Tehreek-e-Labbaik Pakistan (TLP) gather for the funeral prayer of Khadim Hussain Rizvi, founder of TLP, in Lahore on November 21, 2020. (AFP)
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Updated 21 November 2020

Tens of thousands attend funeral of hardline Pakistani cleric in Lahore

  • Rizvi’s son, Saad Rizvi, has been appointed the next leader of the Tehreek-e-Labaik Pakistan
  • The cleric's critics accuse him of weaponizing the issue of blasphemy in a country where religious sensitivities usually run high

ISLAMABAD: Tens of thousands of people gathered near a prominent national monument in Lahore on Saturday to offer the funeral prayers of the founding leader of Tehreek-e-Labbaik Pakistan (TLP), Khadim Hussain Rizvi, who died at the age of 54 on Thursday.
Rizvi’s son, Saad Rizvi, has been appointed new leader of the group.
Rizvi’s last political activity was to lead an anti-France demonstration on the outskirts of Islamabad to protest the publication of caricatures disparaging Prophet Muhammad (pbuh).
The cause of his death could not be determined, though it was claimed that he was suffering from high fever and experienced breathing difficulties before his death.
Most people who participated in his funeral were not wearing face masks, though the country has been swept by a second wave of the coronavirus pandemic and most cities have made it mandatory for their residents to take precautionary measures at public places.
The TLP party emerged after Mumtaz Qadri, a police commando, assassinated Punjab governor Salman Taseer in Jan. 2011 for defending a Pakistani Christian woman sentenced to death for committing blasphemy.
Rizvi and his associates launched a campaign for Qadri’s release, saying he had acted to protect the honor of the Prophet (pbuh).
Anti-blasphemy protests organized by TLP in 2017 paralyzed Islamabad for several weeks, and were only dispersed after a military-brokered deal. Rizvi and his party also held nationwide protests against Bibi’s acquittal in Oct. 2018.
Pakistan’s mainstream media usually avoid covering TLP protests, but the group reached the masses through social media.
A controversial preacher who used strong language to revile his critics, Rizvi was accused of weaponizing the issue of blasphemy in a country where religious sensitivities usually run high.
His recent demonstration forced the government to consider the possibility of expelling the French ambassador after taking up the issue in parliament.


Pakistan says no possibility of recognizing Israel before just settlement of Palestinian issue

Updated 24 November 2020

Pakistan says no possibility of recognizing Israel before just settlement of Palestinian issue

  • Prime Minister Imran Khan recently admitted that his administration was under pressure to recognize Israel
  • Pakistan's foreign office says the country supports Palestinian right to self-determination

ISLAMABAD: The foreign office of Pakistan on Tuesday "categorically rejected" speculation regarding any possibility of recognizing Israel by Pakistan, saying it believed that Palestinians should get the right to self-determination.
Referring to Prime Minister Imran Khan's recent statement on the subject, the foreign ministry spokesperson said that Pakistan was not willing to recognize the Jewish state until a just settlement of the Palestine issue -- that satisfied the Palestinian people -- was found.
"Pakistan steadfastly supports the Palestinian people's inalienable right to self-determination," said an official statement circulated in Islamabad. "For just and lasting peace, it is imperative to have a two-state solution in accordance with the relevant United Nations and OIC resolutions, with the pre-1967 borders, and Al-Quds Al-Sharif as the capital of a viable, independent and contiguous Palestinian State."
Prime Minister Khan recently admitted that his administration was under international pressure to recognize Israel, though he refused to name the countries that had reached out to him for that purpose.
He also maintained that his government would go with the choice that the country's founding father, Muhammad Ali Jinnah, made and continue to stand by the people of Palestine.