Pakistani Government Calls in Army to Help Disperse Islamist Protesters

Allan Goodman
November 26, 2017

The violent protests have spread to other cities including Karachi, Lahore, Rawalpindi and Peshawar.

Government orders troop deployment after clashes between anti-blasphemy protesters and police leave over 170 injured.

The government launched the operation because of the never-ending protests going on across the province Punjab and other cities of Pakistan.

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.

Security forces arrested over 300 protesters - 150 in Islamabad alone - and took them to various police stations across Pakistan.

After Pakistan Electronic Media Regulatory Authority (PEMRA) ordered to take all news channels off air, social media access via internet browsers to Facebook, Youtube and Twitter were also temporarily blocked on Saturday. A total of 54 people were reportedly delivered to hospitals, including 14 security officials as clashes between police and demonstrators erupted.

Linton Church carries on Thanksgiving dinner tradition
Volunteers delivered a Thanksgiving meal around the city, while the church hosted a sit-down meal for anyone to come and enjoy. Between serving close to 800 meals either at the church or with deliveries, Taylor said the entire congregation was involved.

Liaquat Kazmi, 30, was standing outside his home near the Faizabad interchange, where the protest is centred, when he was manhandled and beaten by police as the crackdown got under way. "Suggested to handle Islamabad Dharna peacefully avoiding violence from both sides as it is not in national interest and cohesion", Major General Asif Ghafoor, the director general of Inter-Services Public Relations (ISPR), said in a tweet referring to the conversation between General Qamar Javed Bajwa and Pakistani Prime Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi.

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

The Islamabad High Court's scolding came one day after the Supreme Court also rejected the government's claim that using force on the protesters could result in injuries and deaths which would foment further unrest in the country. "First, they stole our mobiles and wallets, and then they beat us mercilessly with sticks and their fists", he said.

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

Meanwhile, protesters set on fire entrance gate of the house of former interior minister Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan.

Incensed by the government crackdown on the Faizabad sit-in, several men affiliated with a religious group attacked the residence of Law Minister Zahid Hamid in his hometown of Pasrur, Sialkot district.

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