Defence Minister Pervez Khattak has said there should be no link between the lynching of a Sri Lankan man and the government’s decision to relax the ban on the Tehreek-e-Labbaik Pakistan (TLP), adding that “murders take place when emotions run high in young people”.
The minister was addressing a press conference in Peshawar amid widespread outrage over the incident wherein a mob killed the manager, Priyantha Kumara, and later set his body on fire over blasphemy allegations.
When asked if the government was planning “solid action” against groups such as the TLP to prevent future incidents, Khattak asked the reporter, “When you were in college, were you also not emotional?”
“I know you were,” he stated.
“Everyone has a different mindset; a mob gathered and someone chanted a slogan related to Islam that led to such an incident,” Khattak added.
He said he could also make a mistake when overcome by emotions, but added that such instances did not mean “Pakistan was on the verge of catastrophe”.
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The reporter then asked the minister if he was linking the alleged killings of nine police officers by TLP protesters, as well as Kumara’s, to “emotions”.
He immediately shifted the blame to the media and said, “Why don’t you change this mindset? Youngsters fight and murders take place [at times]. It is the job of the media to inform the youth.”
“The media only accepts advertisements and makes money,” an irate Khattak claimed.
On November 2, the government began implementing the accord with TLP, with reports suggesting that it had released more than 800 supporters of the party arrested across Punjab.
A week later, on November 7, TLP ceased to be a proscribed organisation after the government accorded approval to the Ministry of Interior’s summary asking for its removal from the First Schedule of the Anti-Terrorism Act, 1997.
TLP was placed in the said schedule in April 2021 on the recommendation of the Punjab home department.