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Votes erode for Pakistan’s blasphemy party TLP


NEW DELHI: Saad Hussain Rizvi, leader of Tehreek-e-Labbaik Pakistan (TLP), an ultra-right party known for its anti-blasphemy agitation, has vowed a comeback after its vote share diminished in last week’s elections in Pakistan. The TLP emerged as the largest Islamist force in the 2018 polls but saw a decline in its prominence in the recent elections.
Rizvi attributed the decline to alleged rigging, claiming that the party’s focus on rights and its stance on faith led to opposition from those in power.Analysts suggest that the death of Rizvi’s father, the party’s founder, and a loss of support from the military contributed to TLP’s diminished influence.
The TLP’s roots lie in Barelvi Islam, a mainstream sect with a conservative stance on blasphemy. Its rise began in 2016 when it protested the execution of Mumtaz Qadri, a bodyguard who assassinated the governor of Punjab province over his stance on blasphemy. The party gained prominence in 2018, with suspicions of military backing to reduce the voter base of Nawaz Sharif’s party.
In recent years, TLP orchestrated violent protests against incidents of Koran burning and satirical cartoons, leading to increased street power. However, its appeal appears to exist in times of perceived crisis, and the decline in electoral success indicates a shift in public sentiment.
Rizvi remains confident of a comeback, urging supporters to protest against the alleged irregularities. The recent decline in TLP’s influence reflects the changing dynamics in Pakistani politics and the evolving priorities of voters.

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