By: Malik Arsalan Awan
When it comes to right-wing politics in Pakistan, Rizvi competed with several groups and leaders and virtually stole the limelight.
An unprecedented farewell; a gathering of millions – people who were bound in a cord of love and devotion with the true lover of the Prophet, Allama Khadim. This was the biggest funeral in the history of Lahore and perhaps in the history of Pakistan as a plethora of devout followers bid farewell to their leader Allama Khadim Rizvi to the Hereafter. Everyone who lives has to go through death. When death takes them away from life, the words in which the departed person is remembered are in fact his thoughts, his dreams, his desires, in the cultivation of which he has laid the gold of his life. We have all placed the wet soil of our existence on the chalk of some desire and dreamt some commitment, some thought and ideology in our own life and this dust finally takes the same form while walking on this chalk. Someone wants to be a big businessman, someone a doctor, an engineer, a media person, a writer, a poet, a teacher, a journalist, a politician, a prime minister, a president and yes, an Islamic leader and a religious scholar. Allama Khadim did became a light for millions as he walked on the same chalk path but now in the absence of the Allama, what is the future of TLP now?
In Pakistan, Rizvi’s party has been perceived by most as a force to be reckoned with over the last few years. For his followers, Rizvi was a charismatic leader who brought electoral relevancy to a religious group that has not been known for its street politics in Pakistan. When it comes to right-wing politics in Pakistan, Rizvi competed with several groups and leaders and virtually stole the limelight. From securing resignations of ministers to shutting down cities and forcing the state into rethinking various policies, Rizvi’s politics of agitation achieved notable gains. Now with him gone, TLP seems to hit a brick wall at the end of a highway to success. It’s highly unlikely that Rizvi’s son, the new leader of TLP could carry his late father’s mantle with similar passion and enigma.
A few days before his death, he was in the capital, demanding the expulsion of France’s ambassador to Pakistan over the issue of controversial cartoons depicting the prophet Mohammad (PBUH). The government had no option but to sign an agreement with Rizvi that promised legislative changes to fulfill his demands, and also freed TLP workers arrested during clashes with the security agencies. Now the question that arises is that, could Rizvi’s son pull off something similar? We are yet to see but by keeping his son to the sidelines and not giving him a bit of spotlight in the past, could prove to be problematic for him when a similar incident such as this protest against France would come up in the future.
Allama’s absence will create a huge challenge for the TLP’s second tier of leadership. It is important to note here that before Rizvi’s ascendance to power, there were serious differences over the question of leadership. Rizvi was able to sideline several other potential candidates and consolidated power over the last few years. Would his son be able to stop such a commotion stirring up among the ranks of TLP? For someone with the level of experience as him, this will surely be a steep mountain to climb. It is possible that in the near future, we could see a fight among several groups within the party for the leadership of the group. There has not been any other leader who even comes close to Rizvi’s persona. Even though the succession of Rizvi’s son can also be seen as a way to quench the stirring of an inner party turmoil among various factions of the TLP but its not long from now when many people among the group are going to question the new leader’s choices and chaos will soon erupt. It can be reasonably inferred that TLP might just see a new divide in the absence of Allama Khadim , as followers of TLP supported TLP because of him and his actions and passion for keeping the flame of Islam alive in incidents when the government tries to hide under the cover or close their eyes like a pigeon in front of a cat. It would be very difficult for TLP to find a leader like Allama Khadim Rizvi.
The writer is a social activist also a business man from United Kingdom, he can be reached at arsalansaysazad.com. or a[email protected]