Pakistan government releases 350 activists of banned Islamist group to resolve tense standoff

Pakistan government has released 350 activists of the banned outfit Tehreek-e-Labbaik Pakistan (TLP), Interior Minister Sheikh Rashid has announced, averting another showdown with the radical Islamist party that was threatening to hold a “long march” to Islamabad. The TLP workers have been holding violent protests across the nation, especially in Lahore, against the government of Prime Minister Imran Khan for not releasing their party chief Saad Hussain Rizvi.

After reviewing TLP’s demands, the issue will be resolved peacefully by Tuesday, Rashid said, Geo News reported on Sunday.

The Opposition parties and the proscribed outfit had staged separate protests in multiple cities of the country, resulting in Islamabad, Lahore and Rawalpindi being partially shut down. Three policemen and seven TLP workers have died in the clashes so far that erupted on Wednesday.

“We have released 350 TLP workers up to now and we are still waiting to open both sides of the road of Muridke as per the decision with the TLP,” The interior minister tweeted after leading a government team in negotiations with representatives of the TLP, including Rizvi, its detained chief, in Islamabad.

Rasheed on Sunday said that talks between the government and the TLP after they threatened to march towards Islamabad have been successful.

The TLP protesters will not move forward (to Islamabad) and will stay in Muridke till Tuesday, he added.

On Friday, Rizvi’s party leader Ajmal Qadri said his supporters launched the “long march” after talks with the government failed to secure the release of their leader. The interior minister said that the government will withdraw cases registered against the activists of TLP by Wednesday, the report added.

The negotiators of the proscribed organisation will visit the Interior Ministry on Monday for a second round of talks, Rasheed said.

It was decided that the cases against those named in the Fourth Schedule will not be taken back, the minister added.

However, a TLP Shura member claimed the interior minister had sought time till the return of Prime Minister Khan who is currently on an official visit to Saudi Arabia, Dawn News reported.

TLP’s founder late Khadim Rizvi’s son Saad Hussain Rizvi has been detained by the Punjab government since April last under the maintenance of ‘public order’ (MPO) following the party’s protest against the blasphemous caricatures of Islam’s Prophet published in France and its demand that the French ambassador be sent back and import of goods from that country be banned.

Subsequently, the TLP agreed to call off protests across the country on the Pakistan government’s assurance that it would present a resolution on the expulsion of the French ambassador in the National Assembly.

However, the government had called the National Assembly session to debate the French envoy’s expulsion and before a vote could take place on the resolution, the Speaker announced the formation of a special committee to discuss the matter and asked the government and the Opposition to engage with each other to develop consensus on the issue. No meeting of this special committee has been held since April.

The TLP shot to fame in 2017 when it held a massive protest for three weeks in the busy Faizabad interchange near Islamabad. The party lifted the lockdown of the city after the then government sacked the then law minister Zahid Hamid.

Cannes Lions Festival younger at 60, with lot more sizzle

ANNES: Sixty is widely acknowledged to be the right age to retire, to bow out gracefully with a handshake and a smile. However, any visitor to the Cannes Lions Festival will soon realise such landmarks matter a lot less at such gatherings.

In its 60th year, the festival, widely acknowledged to be the world’s premier award show for the advertising and marketing community, is younger, more crowded and sexier than ever before. If last year’s stilt-walkers and jugglers set a benchmark for craziness, this year’s parade of giant pandas (actually a team advertising China Week at the festival) have raised the bar.

Even before the festival kicks into high gear, Sunday saw delegates crowding the Palais des Festivals, taking in day one’s schedule of seminars, sampling the famous beaches, and trying to avoid head-on collisions with the skateboarders that have proliferated on the Croisette. At the Palais, the loudest buzz centred around the ‘Innovation’ category, a new category at the festival.

Among the finalists is an entry based in India, even if its not created by a local agency: ‘Small World Machine’ for Coca-Cola from Leo Burnett Sydney, which involved placing a couple of camera-powered Coke vending machines in Delhi and Lahore, allowing people a chance to send each other a bottle of the beverage and interact while doing so.

Overall, the number of entries from India has declined this year, but one of the country’s biggest bets comes from one of its largest advertisers: Hindustan


. The campaign from Lifebuoy, which promoted hand-washing at Kumbh Mela earlier this year via messages stenciled onto rotis, created by Ogilvy Outreach, is entered in a number of different categories.

And yet it’s not just the love for metal that’s bringing people to Cannes. Apart from having backed some of the work that have been entered this year, festival veteran Ajay Kakar, chief marketing officer at Aditya Birla Group – financial services, has signed up with a colleague for a CMO accelerator programme run by Jim Stengel, the former chief marketing officer at P&G and now an independent consultant who works on brands like Toyota and Visa.

Kakkar remains slightly disappointed that even as the global marketing community considers the Cannes Lions a great learning activity – everyone from the top brass at Coca-Cola, Diageo, Unilever, Visa and LinkedIn are there this year – in India, it is still viewed as little more than an indulgence for creative agencies by many of his contemporaries.

However, with more Indian agency folk starting to pour in and a smattering of entries making it to the shortlists already announced, brace yourselves for a week full of controversy and heated discussions on why a particular piece of work deserved to win a metal (or lose).