LAHORE - Tehrik-i-Lubbaik Pakistan, a nascent religio-political party that raised many an eyebrow by bagging 2.19 million votes against 2.54 million polled collectively by the five-party Muttahida Majlis-i-Amal, says Imran Khan has no right to form government at the centre as the July 25 elections were massively rigged, and also because the PTI chairman has no past services to his credit that earned him the right to rule the country.

A person who has been playing cricket throughout his life knows nothing about governance and people cannot pin hopes on him, TLP Amir Maulana Khadim Hussain Rizvi said in an interview here on Sunday.

In his opinion it would have been better if a national government, comprising people of integrity, had been set up for a year at the end of the term of the caretakers and an effective accountability process should have been launched to cleanse the society of corruption.

According to him, the TLP won two seats of the Sindh Assembly, although it was expecting 25/30 NA seats and proportionately provincial seats in the first election that it contested after being registered with the Election Commission of Pakistan about a year ago.

Maulana Rizvi said rigging was a collective sin committed by the nation after which it should collectively fear Allah’s wrath.

In response to a question, he said the TLP legislators-elect would not cooperate with any party and, instead, prefer to sit on opposition benches with their own distinct identity.

Asked who in his opinion had the right to form government in Punjab, he said: “Those who helped set up government at the centre know better,” satire visible on his face.

He refused to offer comment on the demands made at the recent all-party conference in Islamabad, saying Maulana Fazlur Rehman was in a better position to respond. However, in a clear reference to the changing positions of the JUI-F amir, Maulana Rizvi said: “Let’s pray for his consistency.”

Q: When the MMA has been in the field for a long time, what was it that prompted you to launch the TLP, a move that divided the nation further?

A: The MMA had ceased to exist after the death of JUP President Maulana Shah Ahmed Noorani. Then everyone should recall whether the MMA had played any role when the Namoos-i-Risalat issue had cropped up, when mosques’ loudspeakers issue had come to fore, and when Mumtaz Qadri was executed.

Q: But now that the MMA is in the field, there’s no justification for you to keep the TLP in the arena.

A: We have no hopes attached with the MMA even in the future. We are there to stay.

Q: Over 90 percent people of Pakistan are Muslims, belonging to one sect or the other. As a matter of principle, the religious parties should have been the major power in the political field. But people don’t like to vote for religious parties. What in your opinion is the reason?

A: People have voted for the TLP in these elections. It’s just a baseless propaganda that people don’t like religious parties. When the results are prepared before elections, what will be the need for elections? People say they voted for us, but the results are not commensurate with the votes cast in favour of TLP. Our supporters are crying in all parts of the country.

Asked what should the religious parties do to regain their lost honour and support, Maulana Rizvi said the religious parties should stick to their actual role. But if they become tools in the hands of evil forces, giving Islam the secondary position, when truth and falsehood are mixed up, better results cannot be expected.

The TLP chief said his party had shut down the country twice in the past, which proved its public support. He said if a situation arose in future it would give a similar call.

Critical of the MMA’s performance when it was in power in KP, the TLP amir said that was the time when the religious parties’ alliance should have restored the era of Hazrat Omar bin Abdulaziz. If they were not in a position to do that, they should have resigned and come out of power. But, unfortunately, the MMA leaders continued to serve their financial interests. Mir Zafarullah Khan Jamali had set a very good example by quitting parliament on account of issues of faith.

When pointed out that religious parties were supposed to unite the nation, but in fact they were dividing it, Maulana Rizvi said if the MMA had stood by the TLP in the election the results would have stunned the world. People would have lent the religious parties unbelievable support if they had stood by the TLP on the issue of Khatam-i-Nabuwwat, Namoos-i-Risalt and Mumtaz Qadri.

Questioned how could the religious parties unite again in the prevailing situation, and who should take what first step for the purpose, Maulana Rizvi said Nizam-i-Mustafa could become the basis of unity.

He said he would not offer any advice to Imran Khan as to what he should or shouldn’t do. He should honour all commitments made to the nation.