Pakistan calls on army to restore order as blasphemy protests spread

Nov 26, 2017, 00:58
Pakistan calls on army to restore order as blasphemy protests spread

Last week, a Pakistani court ordered the government to clear the sit-in protest, prompting a series of meetings between protest leaders and the government to attempt to reconcile differences. Government officials were not immediately available for comment on the situation.

The protesters, belonging to the Tehreek-e-Labbaik, broke into and ransacked the minister's haveli, Express News reported.

Smoke and tear gas filled the air in the ongoing, hours-long bid by some 8,500 police as well as paramilitary Rangers and Frontier Corps forces to clear the demonstrators, which began soon after dawn.

Army chief General Qamar Javed Bajwa talked to Prime Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi and asked him for a peaceful solution to the problem.

The protesters however spread to dozens of different points as more people from twin cities come to the protest.

Mass protests have been ongoing in Islamabad for several weeks already after the authorities made a decision to amend the Election Act by excluding a provision that had obliged candidates to confirm the Finality of Prophethood, which is the unanimous belief of the Muslim world that the Prophet Muhammad was the last prophet of Allah. Dr. Mohammad Altaf Hussain, at Islamabad's main hospital, said 186 people were brought from the rally with minor injuries and respiratory problems.

In Islamabad, thousands of security officials were deployed to break up the protests.

Tear gas shells were fired to disperse these protesters belonging to the Tehreek-e-Labaik Ya Rasool Allah Pakistan (TLYRAP) leading to a violent retaliation. "We can see that they have various resources at their disposal".

Dawn said nearly 8,000 security personnel started operation at 7 am after last deadline ended on Saturday. Ahsan said that some among the protesters wanted to create chaos and destabilization in the country.

In Karachi, groups of people gathered at three crucial venues blocking streets in protest against the police action in Islamabad.

The protesters, numbering as many as 2,000, stood their ground, fighting back by throwing stones and beating police with sticks and metal rods in running battles that continued throughout the day.

In Lahore, an unruly mob torched a vehicle and damaged others with stoning and staged sit-ins at four key areas in the city.

Enraged protesters attacked the house of Law Minister Zahid Hamid here on Saturday. The interior minister said the protesters had also "contacted India", according to a report in the newspaper.