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Pakistan's deal with TLP comes under its plans of mainstreaming militant groups: Report

News Agencies | Updated on: 15 November 2021, 9:32 IST

The latest deal reached between the Pakistani government and Tehreek-e-Labaaik Pakistan (TLP) is being viewed by the observers as a continuation of the state's project of 'mainstreaming' militant groups which were largely launched after 2017, when the military defeated a violent Islamist insurgency led by the Pakistani Taliban, reported Dawn.

Mainstream political parties in Pakistan have frequently formed alliances with militant groups and used religion to further their political agendas. These short-sighted strategies have always caused harm in the long run, according to the American political scientist Paul Santillan writing in the 2015 issue of the Journal of Conflict Resolution.

Santillan said that states and governments employ four common strategies towards militant outfits: suppression, containment, collusion and integration.

For Pakistan, this is not the first time an agreement has been signed between a sitting government and the TLP, which emerged in 2015 and presents itself as being the foremost guardian of the country's controversial blasphemy laws. It has, on various occasions, demonstrated its 'street power' and the ability to dent the vote banks of the country's major mainstream political parties, according to Dawn.

Further, the newspaper stated that the mainstreaming project has been somewhat successful in bringing certain militant sectarian and Islamist outfits to the ballot box. But there are more critics of the project than supporters as mainstreaming projects in this context are not simply about persuading militant groups to go 'moderate' by joining electoral politics.

Santillan emphasised that a mainstream political party severs its ties with militant groups once it attains a majority in the parliament, because, by then, the party is not beholden to continue its alliance with the militant outfit and, instead, starts to view it as a threat.

The Pakistani newspaper said that this is why the current PTI government banned the TLP early this year. Before the 2018 elections, the TLP was nourished by the state and the PTI as a potential usurper of PML-N votes. The TLP did manage to cause enough electoral disruption to aid a PTI victory. But, by 2020, the TLP had begun to usurp PTI votes as well (during by-elections), said Dawn.


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First published: 15 November 2021, 9:32 IST