PM Khan asks Hafeez Shaikh to continue as finance minister after Senate defeat

This file photo shows Pakistan's finance minister Abdul Hafeez Sheikh, left, during his meeting with Prime Minister Imran Khan in Islamabad on May 20, 2020. (Photo courtesy: Imran Khan/Facebook)
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Updated 06 March 2021

PM Khan asks Hafeez Shaikh to continue as finance minister after Senate defeat

  • The prime minister expresses his faith in Shaikh's professional abilities while praising him for shoring up the national economy
  • Shaikh can work in his current capacity until June, though the government may try again to get him elected to parliament

ISLAMABAD: Prime Minister Imran Khan has told his close aide Abdul Hafeez Shaikh to continue working as finance minister after Shaikh lost a general seat from the federal capital to a joint opposition candidate in the recent Senate elections, local media reported on Saturday.
In a one-on-one meeting after securing the vote of confidence from parliament earlier in the day, Khan said he had complete faith in Shaikh's professional abilities and applauded him for shoring up the ailing national economy.
The ruling Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) administration relied heavily on its finance minister to bring down the current account deficit and keep the financial system on track during the coronavirus pandemic.
After the Islamabad High Court ruled in a case in December that no special assistant or advisor to prime minister could chair or participate in cabinet committee meetings, Khan exercised his constitutional authority to elevate Shaikh as a federal minister for a period of six months.
According to Article 91 (9) of the Constitution, the finance minister cannot be reappointed to the same position as an unelected individual, and his defeat in the Senate election implies he may only be able to serve in his current capacity until June.
According to The Express Tribune, however, the government is likely to make one more effort to get him elected to the upper house of parliament by de-seating an opposition member, Ishaq Dar, who was elected to the Senate from Punjab in 2018 but did not take oath to the office.


Pakistan says will ban Tehreek-i-Labaik religious party after deadly protests nationwide

Updated 6 min 36 sec ago

Pakistan says will ban Tehreek-i-Labaik religious party after deadly protests nationwide

  • Interior minister says proposal to ban TLP sent to federal cabinet for approval
  • Pakistani Taliban come out in support for TLP, pay tribute to group for putting up resistance against security forces

ISLAMABAD/KARACHI – The Pakistan government on Wednesday said it had sent a proposal to the federal cabinet to impose a ban on the Tehreek-e-Labaik Pakistan (TLP) religious party for killing two policemen, attacking law enforcement forces and disrupting public life through nationwide protests.
Demonstrations erupted in major Pakistani cities and quickly turned violent after Saad Rizvi, the head of the TLP, was arrested on Monday.
Addressing a press conference, interior minister Sheikh Rashid Ahmed said protesters had killed two policemen and injured another 340 during violent attacks on law enforcement forces.
“We have decided to slap a ban on the TLP,” he said. “A file [for the purpose] is being dispatched to the federal cabinet for formal approval.”
“The police personnel who were kidnapped [by the protesters] have also reached back to their respective police stations,” he said, adding that demonstrators had blocked ambulances and obstructed oxygen supply to the hospitals as a third wave of the coronavirus swept through the country.
The minister also ruled out negotiations with the protesters and said their demands would not be met.
On Sunday, a day before his arrest, TLP chief Rizvi had threatened the government with protests if it did not expel France’s envoy to Islamabad over blasphemous caricatures of Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him). Rizvi had called on the government to honor what he said was a commitment made to his party in February to expel the French envoy before April 20 over the publication in France of depictions of the Prophet (pbuh), which has enraged Muslims around the world. 
The government of Prime Minister Imran Khan says it had only committed to debating the matter in parliament. 
The interior minister congratulated law enforcement officials for clearing all blocked roads including motorways in eight to ten hours.
“They [the protesters] were well prepared and wanted to reach Islamabad at any cost,” Ahmed said, adding that the government had tried its best to resolve the issue through negotiations, but failed to convince TLP leaders.
“We are banning them not for any political reason, but due to their character,” he said, adding that if the government met the TLP’s demands, it would send the world a signal that Pakistan was an ‘extremist state.’
Earlier in the day, the interior minister had said while chairing a meeting to review the violence: “The writ of the state must be ensured at any cost.”
Law minister and spokesperson for the Sindh government, Murtaza Waha, said 254 people had been arrested and detained in the province since Monday.
“254 have been arrested and detained whereas 15 FIRs [police reports] have been registered,” he told Arab News.

PAKISTANI TALIBAN COME OUT IN TLP SUPPORT

Meanwhile, the Pakistani Taliban came out in support for TLP protesters, congratulating them for putting up resistance against security forces.
“[We] pay them [TLP] tribute for their courage and showing the military organizations their place,” the Taliban said in a statement. “We assure them that we will make them (government) accountable for every drop of the martyrs’ blood,” they added, referring to TLP claims that its supporters had been killed in clashes with authorities.
The Pakistani Taliban, a different entity from the Afghan Taliban and fighting to overthrow the Pakistan government, are an umbrella of militant groups called Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP), which has broken into many divisions.
Designated a terrorist group by the United States, the TTP has been in disarray in recent years, especially after several of its top leaders were killed by US drone strikes on both sides of the Pakistan-Afghanistan border, forcing its members into shelter in Afghanistan, or fleeing to urban Pakistan.
“We want to remind them [TLP] that this government and security institutions are always untrustworthy, breachers of promise and liars so they should not be trusted and military effort is the only solution to this problem,” the Taliban statement said.
In a press conference on Tuesday evening, science and technology minister Chaudhry Fawad Hussain had said “no group or party must even think of dictating the government or the state … If a state allows this, then it will disintegrate and there will be chaos.” 
In a statement released on Tuesday afternoon, TLP told the government: “You will have to expel the French ambassador under all costs … The country will remain jammed until the French ambassador is expelled.” 
In a separate statement, TLP said its protests would go on until Rizvi was released. 
 ARMED PROTESTERS

On Tuesday, the government of Punjab said troops of Pakistan Rangers (Punjab) were “required with immediate effect till the request of de-requisition.”
Rangers were deployed in the cities of Rahim Yar Khan, Sheikhupura, Chakwal and Gujranwala, the circular said. 
Lahore police spokesperson Rana Arif told the daily Dawn newspaper protesters had beaten a police constable to death in Lahore’s Shahdara area on Tuesday, as a result of which a police case had been registered against TLP leaders and supporters. Police have also registered a case against Rizvi on terrorism and other charges, Arif said. 
“Over 300 policemen in Punjab, including 97 in Lahore, had sustained injuries, many of them seriously, after violent protesters attacked them with clubs, bricks and firearms,” Dawn reported. “The Gujrat district police officer and Kharian Deputy superintendent of police were among the injured.” 
“Hundreds of protesters and policemen were injured and thousands of TLP activists and supporters were arrested and booked for attacking law enforcement personnel and blocking main roads and highways,” Dawn added, saying four people, including a policeman, had been killed. 
Police said four policemen had been shot by armed TLP protesters, and the use of firearms by demonstrators had taken law enforcement agencies by surprise. 
“In Lahore alone, four policemen were shot at and injured by the armed men of the TLP in the Shahpur Kanjran area. Similarly, two police constables were shot at and injured in Faisalabad,” Dawn reported, adding: 
“Two video clips from Lahore in this regard showed policemen, Imran and Aslam, being rushed to a hospital with bullet wounds. In another video clip, an on-duty policeman was seen calling for help to dispatch more force, saying they had come under armed attack by the protesters in Shahpur Kanjran.” 
“The TLP armed men opened straight fire on the police and our four constables were injured,” Lahore DIG (operations) Sajid Kiani told reporters on Tuesday evening. 
Under a standing order, he said, police had been deployed unarmed and allowed only to use anti-riot gear against protesters. “But it shocked us that the TLP men used guns against the anti-riot force,” Kiani said. 
Giving one example, Kiani said when police reached Shahpur Kanjran to clear the national highway, announcements were made in nearby mosques urging TLP followers to take on police. 
“Within 10 minutes, some 200 people joined those already present and attacked police,” he said, adding that Lahore police had lodged 19 cases against protesters and cleared the areas of Shahdara, Imamia Colony, Thokar Niaz Baig, Babu Sabu and some parts of Ring Road by Tuesday evening. 
Police also conducted an operation in the Chungi Amar Sidhu area to rescue Model Town SP (operations) Dost Mohammad Khosa and five other policemen from protesters holding them hostage at a power grid station. 
The Shahdra and Thokhar areas of Lahore also turned into battlefields after hundreds of TLP supporters took several policemen hostage. 
In Shahdara, a constable died due to severe head and chest injuries after protesters tortured him with clubs, police said. 
Police said TLP activists had occupied and blocked 22 main roads, intersections and areas of Lahore, while reports of violence had also come from Faisalabad, Sheikhupura, Rahim Yar Khan, Sahiwal and Gujrat. 
Reports from other parts of Punjab suggested TLP supporters had occupied over 100 points, roads and major intersections of various cities of the province. 
Over 1,400 activists of the TLP have been arrested across Punjab, Punjab police spokesperson told Dawn, saying Punjab police had launched major operations, cleared nearly 60 roads and areas, and registered multiple police cases against supporters, representatives and leaders of the TLP. 
Speaking to Arab News, Muhammad Ali, a spokesperson of the TLP in Karachi, said at least six workers of the party had died and a large number were wounded due to firing by law enforcement agencies. Hospital and rescue sources only confirmed two deaths. 
In a statement released on Tuesday, TLP said seven of its supporters had been killed in police firing, but the figures could not be independently verified. 

HISTORY OF PROTESTS 

Saad Rizvi became the leader of the Tehreek-e-Labiak Pakistan party in November last year after the sudden death of his father, Khadim Hussein Rizvi. 
Tehreek-e-Labiak and other religious parties denounced French President Emmanuel Macron since October last year, saying he tried to defend caricatures of the Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) as freedom of expression. 
Macron’s comments came after a young Muslim beheaded a French school teacher who had shown caricatures of the Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) in class. The images had been republished by the satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo to mark the opening of the trial over the deadly 2015 attack against the publication for the original caricatures. That enraged many Muslims in Pakistan and elsewhere who believe those depictions are blasphemous. 
Rizvi’s party gained prominence in Pakistan’s 2018 federal elections, campaigning to defend the country’s blasphemy law, which calls for the death penalty for anyone who insults Islam. It also has a history of staging protests and sit-ins to pressure the government to accept its demands. 
In November 2017, Rizvi’s followers staged a 21-day protest and sit-in after a reference to the sanctity of the Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) was removed from the text of a government form.


Babar Azam’s incredible rise from tape-ball cricket to ODI apex

Updated 56 min 39 sec ago

Babar Azam’s incredible rise from tape-ball cricket to ODI apex

  • Pakistan captain Azam has ended Virat Kohli’s 1,258-day reign at top of MRF Tyres ICC Men’s ODI Player Rankings
  • Becomes only the fourth batsman from Pakistan to attain number one position in the latest weekly update

ISLAMABAD: Pakistan captain Babar Azam has ended Virat Kohli’s long reign at the top of the MRF Tyres ICC Men’s ODI Player Rankings, becoming only the fourth batsman from his country to attain number one position in the rankings, the International Cricket Council said on Wednesday.
From playing on the streets of Lahore to the top of the world, Azam has officially climbed a peak unreached by any Pakistani since Mohammad Yousuf.
Azam has attained a career high 865 points following a momentous series against South Africa, whom his side defeated 2-1 to grab 20 World Cup Super League points. He now leads Indian captain Kohli by eight points. 
“The Pakistan captain has overtaken Virat Kohli to become the No.1 batsman in the latest @MRFWorldwide ICC men’s ODI rankings,” the ICC said on Twitter. 

“Babar, a star of the ICC Under-19 Men’s Cricket World Cups in 2010 and 2012 and who has been playing ODIs since 2015, had started the series against South Africa at 837 rating points but moved up to 858 (ahead of Kohli) after his score of 103 in the first match. He dropped to 852 by the time of the last weekly rankings update with a score of 32 in the second ODI,” ICC said on its website. 
“By ending Kohli’s 1,258-day supremacy, Babar has emulated compatriots Zaheer Abbas (1983-84), Javed Miandad (1988-89), and Mohammad Yousuf (2003) as the number one ODI batsman. In Tests, Babar has attained a best of fifth position and is currently ranked sixth while in T20Is he is third but has been number one in the past.”
Responding to his new achievement, Azam said he felt “privileged and honored” to have joined the company of the shining stars of Pakistani cricket like Zaheer Abbas, Javed Miandad and Mohammad Yousuf.
“This is another milestone in my career, which will now require even more hard work and absolute consistency with the bat in order for me to hold on to the ranking for an extended period of time, like Sir Vivian Richards from January 1984 to October 1988 and Virat Kohli for 1,258 days,” Azam said. 
“I have also previously topped the T20I rankings, but the ultimate ambition and goal is to lead the Test rankings, which are the real testament and reward to a batsman’s calibre, reputation and skills. I understand to achieve this objective, I will not only have to perform consistently, but more importantly, against the top sides.
“I am looking forward to this challenge and remain confident I will be able to accomplish this target with the support of my team-mates and coaching staff. But at this stage, I will savour the moment as it has come almost 18 months after I was first appointed the white-ball captain and that too at the back of my performances that helped Pakistan become the first Asian side to win two ODI series in South Africa,” Azam said.
By 12, Azam was playing serious tape-ball cricket and at age 14 he had his first meaningful taste of failure in the sport as he was rejected from the national academy. It was only a setback, the ICC said, as a year later he would gain entry and be declared the country’s best Under-15 batsman.
By age 15 he had made his List A debut and by 16 he was a first-class cricketer for ZTBL. By the time he received his first ODI cap he already had six centuries and more than 2,000 List A runs at an average of 47.88 to his name.
“Nowadays, Azam’s place among ODI cricket’s finest players is unquestionable. An average of 56.83 and 13 centuries across just 80 matches will do that sort of thing,” the ICC said.
By September 2018 Azam passed 2,000 runs in ODI cricket, reaching the milestone in just 45 innings. Only one player has ever gotten there quicker and that is South African great Hashim Amla. Amla took just 40 innings.
In the 2019 ICC Cricket World Cup, Azam made history, scoring 474 runs at 67.61 to break Javed Miandad’s 1992 record for the most runs by a Pakistan batsman in a Cricket World Cup campaign.
“Still only 26 years old, Azam’s best years are still ahead of him,” the ICC said. “Given he boasts the third greatest ODI average (56.83) in history right now, that is a scary thought for opposition teams all around the world.”


Pakistan says will manufacture single-dose coronavirus vaccine with Chinese assistance

Updated 14 April 2021

Pakistan says will manufacture single-dose coronavirus vaccine with Chinese assistance

  • DG of National Institute of Health says Islamabad has requested China to transfer CanSinoBio vaccine technology to Pakistan
  • Raw material for vaccine production expected to arrive this month, NIH has procured all necessary equipment and chemicals, DG NIH says 

ISLAMABAD: Pakistan plans to make its own single-dose coronavirus vaccine in collaboration with China, local media reported on Wednesday, quoting the Director General of the National Institute of Health.
Pakistan is currently offering free vaccines to frontline health care workers and people over the age of 50, but the drive has thus far been slow, and last month the country allowed commercial imports by the private sector for the general public.
The first round saw the commercial sale of the two-shot Russian Sputnik V to the general public for about 12,000 Pakistani rupees ($80) for a pack of two doses.
According to Pakistan’s The Express Tribune, the DG of the National Institute of Health (NIH), Major General Aamer Ikram, told the media after briefing a National Assembly standing committee that the country had requested China to transfer CanSinoBio coronavirus vaccine technology to Pakistan, and raw material was expected to arrive this month.
“We hope that we will be able to take some measures for preparation of the vaccine by the end of April,” he was quoted as saying. “The NIH has procured all the equipment and chemicals needed in this regard.”
Ikram said a Pakistani team was ready to undertake the task under the supervision of a Chinese team that was already in Pakistan. 
On Tuesday, Pakistan’s planning minister said 1.3 million people had so far been vaccinated in the nation of 220 million. 


Pakistan to open Munich consulate to expand economic cooperation with Germany

Updated 14 April 2021

Pakistan to open Munich consulate to expand economic cooperation with Germany

  • Announcement made by foreign minister during two-day official visit to Berlin
  • Qureshi says Pakistan to explore cooperation with Germany in IT, solar energy, electric vehicles

ISLAMABAD: Pakistan’s Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi has announced that Islamabad would open a consulate in Munich, Germany, to tap into the economic potential of cooperation between the two countries.
Qureshi’s visit comes as Pakistan moves to lay the foundations of a structured dialogue with a key European country with whom Islamabad has never had a meaningful relationship. 
“For greater economic collaboration between Pakistan and Germany, & in cognizance of growing needs of diaspora, I am happy to announce that Pakistan will be establishing a new Consulate in Munich,” Qureshi said on Twitter. 


“The foreign minister said a Consul General would be appointed at the Munich mission to supplement the diplomatic efforts of embassy in Berlin,” state-run Associated Press of Pakistan reported. “He said Pakistan was committed to work out the Strategic Engagement Plan of Europe. He said Pakistan could explore cooperation with Germany particularly in areas of information technology, solar energy and electric vehicles.”
Qureshi said he was satisfied that around 5,000 Pakistani students were currently studying at various educational institutes in Germany, while “efforts would be made to expand the scope of cooperation in education sector by engaging Higher Education Commission so that Germany could become a top destination for Pakistani students.”
In a meeting with a delegation of the Pakistani diaspora in Germany, Qureshi said the government was making serious efforts to give the right to vote to Pakistanis living abroad.
“He said the option of electronic voting was under consideration to facilitate the expatriates,” APP reported. “FM Qureshi acknowledged the services of the Pakistani community, terming it an important linkage for strengthening bilateral relations between the two countries.”


Pakistan says will ensure writ ‘at any cost’ as religious party’s protests escalate

Updated 28 min 23 sec ago

Pakistan says will ensure writ ‘at any cost’ as religious party’s protests escalate

  • Tehreek-e-Labaik Pakistan is holding protests since Monday when it’s chief was arrested for threatening government over French cartoons
  • Protesters beat a policeman to death in Lahore, TLP says at least seven supporters dead and dozens injured in clashes with law enforcement

ISLAMABAD/KARACHI: Pakistan’s interior minister on Wednesday said the government would ensure “the writ of the state at any cost” after nationwide protests by a religious party entered the third day and one policeman was beaten to death and dozens of policemen and protesters were injured in towns across the nation.
Demonstrations erupted in major Pakistani cities and quickly turned violent after Saad Rizvi, the head of the Tehreek-e-Labaik Pakistan (TLP) religious party, was arrested on Monday. 
The government has already given a go-ahead for paramilitary troops to be deployed in major urban centers to quell protests. 
“The writ of the state must be ensured at any cost,” Federal Minister for Interior Sheikh Rashid Ahmed was quoted as telling law enforcement agencies while chairing a meeting to review the violence. 
Federal Minister for Religious Affairs Pir Noorul Haq Qadri, the secretary interior and other top government officials, including the police chiefs of Punjab and Islamabad, were present at the meeting. 
“Strict action will be taken against those taking law into their own hands,” the interior minister warned. 
The participants of the meeting also paid tribute to the policemen who had laid down their lives in the line of duty. 
On Sunday, Rizvi had threatened the government with protests if it did not expel France’s envoy to Islamabad over blasphemous caricatures of Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him). Rizvi has called on the government to honor what he said was a commitment made to his party in February to expel the French envoy before April 20 over the publication in France of depictions of the Prophet (pbuh), which has enraged Muslims around the world. 
The government of Prime Minister Imran Khan says it had only committed to debating the matter in parliament. 
“Troops of Pakistan Rangers (Punjab) are required with immediate effect till the request of de-requisition,” the government of Punjab said in a notification. 
Rangers would be deployed in the cities of Rahim Yar Khan, Sheikhupura, Chakwal and Gujranwala, the circular said. 
In a press conference on Tuesday evening, science and technology minister Chaudhry Fawad Hussain said “no group or party must even think of dictating the government or the state … If a state allows this, then it will disintegrate and there will be chaos.” 
He added: “Every group has a right of protest and we are ready to hold talks [with TLP] if they present their demands in a democratic way.” 
In a statement released on Tuesday afternoon, TLP told the government: “You will have to expel the French ambassador under all costs … The country will remain jammed until the French ambassador is expelled.” 
In a separate statement, TLP said its protests would go on until Rizvi was released. 

ARMED PROTESTERS 
Lahore police spokesperson Rana Arif told the daily Dawn newspaper protesters had beaten a police constable to death in Lahore’s Shahdara area on Tuesday, as a result of which a police case had been registered against TLP leaders and supporters. Police have also registered a case against Rizvi on terrorism and other charges, Arif said. 
“Over 300 policemen in Punjab, including 97 in Lahore, had sustained injuries, many of them seriously, after violent protesters attacked them with clubs, bricks and firearms,” Dawn reported. “The Gujrat district police officer and Kharian Deputy superintendent of police were among the injured.” 
“Hundreds of protesters and policemen were injured and thousands of TLP activists and supporters were arrested and booked for attacking law enforcement personnel and blocking main roads and highways,” Dawn added, saying four people, including a policeman, had been killed. 
Police said four policemen had been shot by armed TLP protesters, and the use of firearms by demonstrators had taken law enforcement agencies by surprise. 
“In Lahore alone, four policemen were shot at and injured by the armed men of the TLP in the Shahpur Kanjran area. Similarly, two police constables were shot at and injured in Faisalabad,” Dawn reported, adding: 
“Two video clips from Lahore in this regard showed policemen, Imran and Aslam, being rushed to a hospital with bullet wounds. In another video clip, an on-duty policeman was seen calling for help to dispatch more force, saying they had come under armed attack by the protesters in Shahpur Kanjran.” 
“The TLP armed men opened straight fire on the police and our four constables were injured,” Lahore DIG (operations) Sajid Kiani told reporters on Tuesday evening. 
Under a standing order, he said, police had been deployed unarmed and allowed only to use anti-riot gear against protesters. “But it shocked us that the TLP men used guns against the anti-riot force,” Kiani said. 
Giving one example, Kiani said when police reached Shahpur Kanjran to clear the national highway, announcements were made in nearby mosques urging TLP followers to take on police. 
“Within 10 minutes, some 200 people joined those already present and attacked police,” he said, adding that Lahore police had lodged 19 cases against protesters and cleared the areas of Shahdara, Imamia Colony, Thokar Niaz Baig, Babu Sabu and some parts of Ring Road by Tuesday evening. 
Police also conducted an operation in the Chungi Amar Sidhu area to rescue Model Town SP (operations) Dost Mohammad Khosa and five other policemen from protesters holding them hostage at a power grid station. 
The Shahdra and Thokhar areas of Lahore also turned into battlefields after hundreds of TLP supporters took several policemen hostage. 
In Shahdara, a constable died due to severe head and chest injuries after protesters tortured him with clubs, police said. 
Police said TLP activists had occupied and blocked 22 main roads, intersections and areas of Lahore, while reports of violence had also come from Faisalabad, Sheikhupura, Rahim Yar Khan, Sahiwal and Gujrat. 
Reports from other parts of Punjab suggested TLP supporters had occupied over 100 points, roads and major intersections of various cities of the province. 
Over 1,400 activists of the TLP have been arrested across Punjab, Punjab police spokesperson told Dawn, saying Punjab police had launched major operations, cleared nearly 60 roads and areas, and registered multiple police cases against supporters, representatives and leaders of the TLP. 
Speaking to Arab News, Muhammad Ali, a spokesperson of the TLP in Karachi, said at least six workers of the party had died and a large number were wounded due to firing by law enforcement agencies. Hospital and rescue sources only confirmed two deaths. 
In a statement released on Tuesday, TLP said seven of its supporters had been killed in police firing, but the figures could not be independently verified. 
HISTORY OF PROTESTS 
Saad Rizvi became the leader of the Tehreek-e-Labiak Pakistan party in November after the sudden death of his father, Khadim Hussein Rizvi. 
Tehreek-e-Labiak and other religious parties denounced French President Emmanuel Macron since October last year, saying he tried to defend caricatures of the Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) as freedom of expression. 
Macron’s comments came after a young Muslim beheaded a French school teacher who had shown caricatures of the Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) in class. The images had been republished by the satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo to mark the opening of the trial over the deadly 2015 attack against the publication for the original caricatures. That enraged many Muslims in Pakistan and elsewhere who believe those depictions are blasphemous. 
Rizvi’s party gained prominence in Pakistan’s 2018 federal elections, campaigning to defend the country’s blasphemy law, which calls for the death penalty for anyone who insults Islam. It also has a history of staging protests and sit-ins to pressure the government to accept its demands. 
In November 2017, Rizvi’s followers staged a 21-day protest and sit-in after a reference to the sanctity of the Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) was removed from the text of a government form.