TLP has not endorsed PTI candidates for 2024 elections
A statement given by Saad Rizvi has been misconstrued
Claim: Tehreek-e-Labbaik Pakistan (TLP) has announced its support for Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf’s (PTI) candidates in the 8 February 2024 elections, following a statement made in favour of Imran Khan by the party’s chief Saad Rizvi.
Fact: Noman Khalid, TLP’s candidate from NA-113 Sheikhupura-I, denied the claim. He said that TLP urges its supporters to vote for its party’s respective candidates who are contesting elections.
Ahead of the general elections on 8 February 2024, Imran Khan’s PTI faces obstacles with multiple key leaders and supporters behind bars, defections, and the loss of its cricket bat symbol, which has raised concerns about fair campaigning and a level playing field. Just a week before the election, Khan was given three additional sentences, 14 years in the cipher case, 10 years in the Toshakhana case, and seven years in un-Islamic marriage case along with his wife.
In Pakistan’s religious-political sphere, TLP has emerged as a key player, representing the predominant Barelvi community, particularly in Punjab and urban Sindh. Despite having potentially fewer seats in national and provincial assemblies than established religious-political parties, the TLP surpasses them in terms of street power and social influence, particularly in Punjab.
It was founded in 2016 in response to the hanging of Mumtaz Qadri, the assassin of Punjab’s former governor, Salman Taseer. It derives its legitimacy from Pakistan’s anti-blasphemy laws and positions itself as the defender of Prophet Muhammad’s honour by safeguarding these laws. The party vehemently opposes any attempts to amend these laws and views such actions as blasphemous and deserving of retribution.
In April 2021, the TLP was banned under Pakistan’s anti-terrorism laws following anti-France protests. However, the ban was lifted in November after the group carried out widespread protests and violent clashes against party leader Saad Rizvi’s arrest.
For the 2024 elections, the PTI has nominated candidates for 246 National Assembly seats, while the TLP has fielded candidates for 223 seats. The data indicates that despite being a relatively new entrant in electoral politics since the 2018 elections, the TLP has nominated more candidates than the established major parties; the Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) and the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N).
In 2018, while the PTI emerged as the single largest party in parliament, forming governments in Punjab and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province, the TLP secured two seats in the Sindh assembly and over two million votes across Pakistan.
Fact or Fiction?
On 6 February 2024, X (formerly Twitter) user G.Mohiudin Chaudry (@GMChaudry1) claimed (archive) TLP’s chief Saad Rizvi made a statement in favour of Imran Khan and PTI’s candidates. The claim was made in response to a tweet carrying a video of Rizvi speaking at a political rally.
The video shows Rizvi saying in Urdu, which has been translated into English, “We’re not telling you to vote for us; we’re saying vote for the one standing for truth. Vote for the one who can look them in the eye. Vote for the one who is not afraid despite being imprisoned, neither then, nor outside, nor now. We stood against oppression yesterday, and we stand against it today. We will die but not support any oppressor.”
The tweet by @GMChaudry1 implies that TLP has announced its support for PTI candidates in the February polls.
Soch Fact Check found the claim to be misleading. Although Rizvi’s video message can imply he is referring to Khan, he did not take anyone’s name. He could instead be referring to the oppression that the TLP claims it faced when the party was banned in 2021, and a number of its leaders and workers were arrested for staging violent protests.
Moreover, Noman Khalid, TLP’s candidate for NA-113 Sheikhupura-I, said he was not aware of this claim but confirmed that his party has not officially announced its support for PTI’s candidates, and that his party’s supporters should vote for TLP’s candidates only.
The tweet by @GMChaudry1 received 2,112 views, 39 likes and seven reposts.
Conclusion: Saad Rizvi’s statement, allegedly in favour of Imran Khan, does not necessarily imply TLP’s endorsement of PTI’s candidates in the upcoming elections.
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