Pakistan launches crackdown on religious protesters, setting off violent clashes

  • Pakistan launches crackdown on religious protesters, setting off violent clashes

Pakistan launches crackdown on religious protesters, setting off violent clashes

Police in Karachi said some 200 protesters were blockading a major road in the southern port, with at least nine injured people - including three with gunshot wounds - brought to hospital, according to doctors.

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.

Late on Saturday, several smaller protests had developed in Karachi, Pakistan's largest city, as well as in Lahore, Gujranwala and Faisalabad.

Numerous protesters were armed with sticks or metal rods, and some held riot shields snatched from the police during the unsuccessful operation to clear the area. The situation prompted the country's regulatory body for electronic media to take TV broadcasts off the air.

The private Pakistan Broadcasting Association said the government should order cable service providers to restart television channels and their coverage of the protests.

Pakistani police fought running battles on Saturday with stone-throwing activists of the ultra-religious Tehreek-e-Labaik party but failed to dislodge the activist who are blocking roads into Islamabad.

Later in the day, security forces appeared to face difficulty clearing the crucial intersection as more and more supporters joined protesters at the site.

Earlier, security forces used tear gas and rubber bullets to try to disperse the demonstrators, Pakistani media report, but were met with rocks and tear gas shells.

Major highways in Punjab province, Pakistan's most populous, remained closed due to the protests on Sunday, said Imran Ahmed Shah, a motorway police spokesperson.

According to the report, hundreds of police in riot gear moved against the Islamist party's supporters after a deadline expired at midnight and some 300 protesters ignored the final warning to disperse.

Though security personnel deployed around the venue of the sit-in vastly outnumbered the protestors, weak planning on the part of the authorities and guerilla tactics from the demonstrators helped turn the tables on law enforcement personnel. They reported that police arrested about 150 protesters, some with knives and pistols.

"After almost three weeks of simmering tensions, a 20-day protest finally erupted in violence in the Pakistani capital of Islamabad".

Rizvi, who leads the Tehreek-e-Labaik Ya Rasool Allah, is demanding the resignation of Pakistan's law minister, Zahid Hamid.

Ishaq Ashhar of the Pakistan Institute of Medical Sciences reported that the hospital received 36 injured persons at least.

The amendment was deemed a "clerical error" by the government and was rectified.

Meanwhile, soldiers began to take up positions in government buildings in Islamabad's Red Zone, where the country's main state institutions are located, including the Prime Minister's Office and the Supreme Court. The religious groups protesting belonged to the Barelvi sect of Islam that has strong ties to Sufism.