Pakistan removes Islamists from terrorist list to end protests

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LAHORE: Pakistan removed Islamist leader Saad Rizvi off his terrorism checklist on Thursday, paving the way for his release from detention under a deal to end weeks of deadly protests by his followers over alleged blasphemy.
The move came a week after the government agreed to free 2,000 detained members of its Tehrik-e-Labaik Pakistan (TLP) Movement, lifted the ban on the group and agreed to allow it to participate in the elections.
In return, the TLP agreed to avoid the politics of violence and withdraw the claim to have FranceThe ambassador was expelled for publishing caricatures of the Prophet Muhammad by a French magazine, the negotiators said.
The TLP took to the streets in mid-October, kicking off weeks of protests and clashes that killed at least seven policemen, injured dozens on both sides and blocked the busiest highway in the country.
At the height of the violence, the Prime Minister Imran KhanThe government banned the TLP, designated it a terrorist group and arrested Rizvi.
A government notification seen by Reuters said the name of TLP head Saad Rizvi was “deleted” from the terrorism checklist after authorities lifted the ban.
He did not go into further details and the government and interior ministry did not immediately respond to requests for comment. But legal experts said a removal from the checklist would be a legal prerequisite for any release.
The TLP, which can mobilize thousands of supporters, was born in 2015 from a protest campaign calling for the release of a police guard who assassinated a provincial governor in 2011 for his calls for reform of blasphemy legislation.
He entered politics in 2017 and surprised the political elite by securing more than 2 million votes in the 2018 election.
The next national elections are scheduled for 2023, and analysts expect political groups to start preparing early next year.

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