Pakistani Government Calls in Army to Help Disperse Islamist Protesters

Posted November 26, 2017

Security forces fought running battles with stone-throwing activists of the ultra-religious Tehreek-e-Labbaik, but failed to dislodge the activists blocking roads into Islamabad.

Later, news channels went off air, after a notification from the Pakistan Electronic Media Regulatory Authority (PEMRA) barred them from broadcasting the security operation live.

So far one police official was martyred in I-8 Sector during the clashes while almost 200 persons of both sides had been injured.

In Islamabad, thousands of security officials were deployed to break up the protests. The sit-in has already cost the life of at least one eight-year-old child whose ambulance could not reach a hospital in time due to the blocked roads, a statement from the Supreme Court has confirmed.

Interior Minister Ahsan Iqbal, meanwhile, claimed that the protesters in Islamabad "contacted India" and that the Pakistan government is investigating the matter, a Dawn report said.

Earlier, the Chief of Army Staff (COAS) General Qamar Javed Bajwa telephoned Prime Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi and discussed the ongoing situation regarding the crackdown on protesters in Islamabad.

A Pakistani police officer aims his gun towards the protesters next to a burning police vehicle during a clash in Islamabad
A Pakistani police officer aims his gun towards the protesters next to a burning police vehicle during a clash in Islamabad

According to reports, dozens of protesters have been detained.

The protesters, who before Saturday numbered some 2,000 people, are demanding that federal law minister Zahid Hamid resign over a hastily-abandoned amendment to the oath that election candidates must swear. Nine people were injured and taken to a nearby hospital, doctors said.

Around 150 protesters were arrested since the clashes erupted, the authorities said.

Protesters in groups of various sizes also took to the streets in Lahore, Faisalabad, Multan, Khanewal, Layyah, Vihari, Dera Ghazi Khan and others cities in Punjab province and in the northwestern city of Peshawar, as well as in southern city of Hyderabad, to show solidarity with the Islamabad protesters.

"The administration is taking action under court order but still we are open for talks with them", he said, referring to the protesters.

"They have fired teargas shells (at security forces), they also cut the fibre-optic cables of cameras monitoring their protest.They have inside information and resources that are being used against the state", he told DawnNews.

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