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TLP patron-in-chief Pir Afzal Qadri quit party

01 May, 2019

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Tehreek-i-Labbaik Pakistan (TLP) patron-in-chief Pir Afzal Qadri, who is currently on judicial remand pending multiple cases against him, has announced his retirement from the movement and issued an apology for incendiary remarks made by him during a protest against the Supreme Court's acquittal of Asia Bibi.

Qadri was booked under sedition and terrorism charges in Gujrat and taken into "protective custody" by the state during a crackdown in November after the TLP announced it would observe martyrs’ day on Nov 25, 2018.

Currently, the Lahore High Court is hearing a bail plea filed by Qadri and TLP chief Khadim Hussain Rizvi since their earlier applications were rejected by an anti-terrorism court. In the last hearing of the case, the court had asked police to submit a record of proof that led to the arrests of Rizvi and Qadri.

Pir Afzal Qadri read out a statement announcing his retirement in a video on Wednesday. An accompanying press release stated that the TLP patron-in-chief is sorry for "hurting the sentiments of the government, the judiciary and the chief of army staff".

"I am a patient of heart disease, paralysis, kidney disease, high blood sugar, and high blood pressure etc, and when the verdict of the Asia Masih case was pronounced, my religious sentiments got hurt and I delivered a speech. I am very sorry for hurting the sentiments of the government, the judiciary and the chief of army staff," he said.

Qadri also distanced the TLP from an incident at a university in Bahawalpur earlier this year, in which a teacher was killed by a student allegedly associated with a senior TLP leader.

He directed party leaders and workers to propagate their viewpoints in a manner consistent with the teachings of the Holy Quran and the Sunnah, and also in line with the law and the Constitution of Pakistan.

"No one will be allowed to resort to arson, vandalism and destroying public and private properties," he said, adding: "Terrorism, killings, discord and armed sectarian actions will be discouraged."

"All the institutions, the law, the Constitution of Pakistan will be honoured," he vowed, adding that that the party workers would stand by the Pakistan Army to defend the country. The TLP leader called on party workers to "behave well, remain peaceful, and refrain from engaging in any activity against the integrity of the state".

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