February 26, 2018

Pakistan calls in army as Islamabad protests turn violent

26 November 2017, 01:26 | Frank Carlson

Army ‘fully ready’ to assist in Islamabad sit-in 0

Army ‘fully ready’ to assist in Islamabad sit-in

The SRO issued in light of the request of the Islamabad Capital Territory Islamabad Administration dated November 25 issued by the ministry under Article 245 of the Constitution, read along with Sections 4 and 5 of the Anti-Terrorism Act and section 131-A of the Cr.P.C authorized the deployment of a sufficient number of troops as to be determined by the Commander 111 Brigade with effect from November 25 until further orders.

The newspaper says 150 protesters were arrested as the operation kicked off.

Some protesters who escaped the operation later gathered at a main street in Rawalpindi blocking it and suspending traffic by throwing stones at moving vehicles. Witnesses said a group of baton-carrying protesters snatched a tear gas gun and a few shells from a constable and lobbed them at police.

But protest leaders were adamant and refused to clear the intersection unless the law minister resigned.

Though the amendment was immediately reversed, Rizvi's supporters are still adamant on Hamid's resignation, denouncing the initial change as blasphemy - a highly volatile issue that has repeatedly caused violence in Pakistan. The protest which has been on for the last three weeks demanding that the law minister Zahid Hamid steps down, claimed that the modification was part of a larger conspiracy even as the government called it a clerical error.

8500 police and paramilitary rangers and frontier corps were deployed to clear the demonstrators.

The explosion at a mosque in Nigeria killed 30 people
Boko Haram has waged an insurgency in northeastern Nigeria since 2009 in its attempt to create an Islamic state in the region. The latest Global Terrorism Index, published last week, said that deaths attributed to Boko Haram in 2016 fell by 80 percent.

The violent protests have spread to other cities including Karachi, Lahore, Rawalpindi and Peshawar. "[There were] several thousands of agitators in some locations of the city, where they lit up branches to the block the roads", she said.

Markets and shops were closing in the megacity, Pakistan's commercial hub, as alarmed residents stayed inside while clerics called for more demonstrators to come and help protect the dignity of the Prophet Mohammed. Many believe the social media "blackout" was meant to stop users from posting and sharing images and views about the crackdown. Gen. Asif Ghafoor, head of Inter-Services Public Relations (ISPR), the army's media wing, said that Gen. Qamar Javed Bajwa telephoned Prime Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi and suggested that the sit-in be resolved peacefully.

The Pakistani government has blocked social media such as Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube amid the ongoing operation against protesters.

The Interior Minister Ahsan Iqbal on Saturday once again offered talks with sit-in protesters as embattled law enforcement agencies (LEAs) were fighting to free the Capital which had been under siege since 20 days.

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.

The government was accused by the critics, of bungling its response to the protest, and allowing a minor issue to grow into a headline-grabbing and potentially risky situation.

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