Pakistan TV channels to go off air during strike on Islamist protesters

Nov 29, 2017, 00:58
Pakistan TV channels to go off air during strike on Islamist protesters

Lahore: Pakistan's Punjab government on Sunday chose to close all educational institutions for two days due to worsening law and order situation in the province following widespread protests by hardline religious groups, reports PTI. The gate at the residence was damaged, police said. They support Khadim Hussain Rizvi, the leader of Tehreek-e Labbaik Pakistan, the hardline Islamist movement spearheading demonstrations. Protesters threw stones to resist the police, who used tear gas, batons and water cannons - though some witnesses reported police using guns and rubber bullets to threaten protesters.

The rallies were triggered by a change in the wording of an electoral oath for lawmakers, which protesters claim was done to appease religious minorities they consider heretics. The Pakistan's senior journalist Hamid Mir has highly criticized the step and compared it to the ban enforced by former President Pervez Musharraf in 2007.

TRT World's Liz Maddock reports.

"Pakistan's Law Minister Zahid Hamid apologized to protesters Sunday for provoking outrage and he assured the nation he believes in the finality of the Prophet Mohammed".

Fresh protests were also springing up in other cities.

At least six people were killed and 192 injured in clashes on Saturday, a rescue services spokesperson said.

Pakistani police lobbed tear gas canisters at supporters of the Tehreek-i-Labaik Ya Rasool Allah party on Saturday as part of an operation to clear an intersection where they have camped out for the last 20 days, the Associated Press reported.

Smaller demonstrations were breaking out in Lahore and other cities, according to local media.

Prime Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi chaired a consultative meeting on the Faizabad operation, which was attended by Gen Bajwa, director general of Interservices Intelligence Naveed Mukhtar, Punjab chief minister Shehbaz Sharif and interior minister Ahsan Iqbal.

In a tweet, DG ISPR Asif Ghafoor had stated that violence would be against national interest and cohesion and quoting the COAS said the issue should be resolved peacefully.

Private television broadcasts remained blocked and social media sites were restricted, sparking confusion about the state of protests and how authorities planned to respond to the spiralling situation.

Authorities have hesitated to act against the sit-in, citing fears of violence as the demonstrators have vowed to die for their cause.

Sitting on thatched mats or blankets, numerous protesters were reading the newspapers, whose front pages were dominated by news of the clashes on Saturday.

Anti-blasphemy protesters, numbering roughly 2,000, have been camped in a key highway known as Faizabad Interchange in Islamabad since early November demanding the resignation of the country's law minister.

The sit-in had previously cost the life of an eight-year-old child whose ambulance could not reach a hospital in time due to the blocked roads.

"Politically driven procrastination has its own costs and this is what the government is paying", analyst Imtiaz Gul said.