Pakistan summons army after violent protests

Posted November 26, 2017

Scores of protesters also came out on the roads in various cities, including Karachi, Lahore, Faisalabad, and other cities of Punjab, and in the Sindh and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa provinces, to protest the crackdown in Islamabad.

Angry mobs earlier set fire to four police vans and attacked journalists, local broadcaster Geo News reported.

A senior government official speaking on condition of anonymity, due to restrictions on speaking to the media, told Anadolu Agency that the security forces had been asked not to take on the violent protesters pending further orders.

A court had given the government until 18 November to clear the protests by any means necessary, but attempts at peaceful resolution had failed.

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The army chief, General Qamar Javed Bajwa, advised Prime Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi on Saturday to "handle the Islamabad dharna peacefully".

As the violence spread, Interior Minister of Pakistan Ahsan Iqbal, in a freaky statement, blamed India.

The same report quoted Iqbal as saying, "They are not simple people. 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. Karachi Police said almost 200 protesters blocked a major road in the southern port. The move has expectedly invited sharp criticism from the media fraternity in the neighbouring country where religious outfits have a history of holding the country to ransom.

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.

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The clashes started after police officials surrounded the protesters at the sit-in area in Faizabad, on the road which connects Rawalpindi to Islamabad.

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

Pakistan's government has called in the army to help police and paramilitary forces disperse a protest in Islamabad that killed at least one person and injured 200 more on Saturday. It reported that police arrested around 150 protesters, some with knives and pistols. Dr. Mohammad Altaf Hussain, at Islamabad main hospital said 86 people were brought from the rally with minor injuries and respiratory problems.

"At least 60 police officers, 45 FC men, and 50 civilians are among those injured", the newspaper says explaining how the figure of casualties is expected to rise as violence spreads to other parts.

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