Thousands of activists of Tehreek-e-Labaik Pakistan (TLP) on Wednesday started their long march towards the federal capital demanding expulsion of the ambassador of Netherlands and an end of diplomatic ties with the country over a blasphemous caricatures competition. The TLP leadership proceeded with the long march after a meeting with a provincial government delegation comprising Minister for Religious Affairs Noorul Haq Qadri and the Punjab Law Minister Raja Basharat. The ministers conveyed to the far right party’s leadership Prime Minister Imran Khan’s message that the federal government would do all in its capacity against the blasphemous caricatures contest. The far-right party stated that the march would end only after Pakistan ended diplomatic ties with Netherlands, or if the competition was stopped by the Dutch government. The Pakistan Tehrik-e-Insaf (PTI) government has already taken up the matter and vowed to raise it through the platform of the Organisation of Islamic Countries (OIC). The competition has been announced apparently by Dutch Freedom Party leader Geert Wilders. The Dutch government has distanced itself from the event. In a statement, Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte said, “Wilders is not a member of the [Dutch] government. The competition is not a government initiative.” At around noon on Wednesday, a large number of TLP activists started gathering at Data Darbar from where they left for Islamabad in the evening. Several processions joined the march led by TLP chief Khadim Hussain Rizvi and TLP patron-in-chief Pir Afzal Qadri at the Azadi Chowk interchange, Batti Chowk, Shahdara roundabout, Kala Shah Kaku interchange and in Muridkay. The marchers would stop on GT Road for a brief time period and then continue the procession towards Rawalpindi after Fajr prayers. Speaking to the protesters, Rizvi said, “we will stay on the roads until expulsion of the ambassador of Netherlands from Pakistan and cancellation of all diplomatic ties with the country.” Afzal Qadri termed the resolutions passed against the competition by the National Assembly or Senate as ceremonial acts and said that resolutions alone would not be enough. “Pakistan should call back its ambassador from Holland while also ousting Holland’s ambassador from here immediately,” he said, adding that the competition had hurt the sentiments of over 1.5 billion Muslims in the world. In November 2017, the TLP held a sit-in at the Faizabad interchange in Rawalpindi that went on for 20 days disrupting everyday life in the area. The purpose of the sit-in was to demand action against those responsible for a minor change in the text pertaining to the finality of the prophethood in the oath of lawmakers. The amendment to the oath was termed as a ‘clerical error’ by the government and was subsequently rectified through an act of the Parliament. However, the TLP sit-in continued demanding action against those responsible for ‘the error’. When the then PML-N government started an operation to disperse the protesters since they were causing undue inconvenience to citizens in the vicinity of the protest site, the TLP workers retaliated and expanded the scope of their violent protests across the country. In a controversial move, the armed forces refused to come in aid of civilian forces despite directions for the purpose by the then Interior Minister Ahsan Iqbal. The episode ended with a controversial agreement between the protesters and the brokered by Chief of the Army Staff Qamar Javed Bajwa. Published in Daily Times, August 30th 2018.