New Delhi: It was the impatient plea of a beleaguered country's Interior Minister, Sheikh Rashid Ahmed.
Amidst fear of an imminent 'storm' landing on the shores of Pakistan and how far its 'devastation' would stretch remaining unknown, Mr Rashid urged the Tehreek-i-Labbaik Pakistan (TLP) to 'Go back' and cautioned that "otherwise things will be out of my hands." The minister categorically told a TV show that the government would stop the potent socio-religious group from entering Islamabad. "He urged the protesters to turn back, otherwise the state would be left with no choice but to "establish its writ"," said a report in 'Dawn'.
Rashid said that while the government does not want violence, Pak Prime Minister Imran Khan would not allow the country to become "hostage".
Much to the embarrassment of the Pakistan government, the Tehreek-i-Labbaik Pakistan supporters on Wednesday celebrated 'capturing a police vehicle' during their protest march towards Islamabad. At least four policemen died and over 250 were injured in clashes between TLP volunteers and law-enforcement personnel near Sadhoke in Punjab's Gujranwala district. The TLP workers also used AK 47 and other weapons, and it has been said.
In between, there is a serious political and economic crisis. "No wonder the question is being asked everywhere: will the government survive?" went a column in 'Dawn' penned by journalist Khurram Husain. He further says: "….how far its devastation stretches is the key question of the day."
Planning and Development Minister Asad Umar said that "murdering Muslim representatives of the state, destroying public property in your own country and creating chaos all in the name of religion is no service to religion. It is simply doing what the enemies of Pakistan and Muslims would want to see," he said.
The Tehreek-e-Labbaik Pakistan is a 'far-right' Islamic extremist political party, and it has been demanding that Sharia be established as the fundamental Islamic law.
The Tehreek-e-Labaik Pakistan group has been protesting for months since French President Emmanuel Macron defended the right of the press to republish cartoons depicting the Prophet Muhammad. Pakistanis considered such depictions blasphemous.