Pakistani police fire tear gas to break up Islamists' sit-in blocking capital

Pakistani police fire tear gas to break up Islamists' sit-in blocking capital

Pakistani police fire tear gas to break up Islamists' sit-in blocking capital

The Pakistani government has called on the army to restore order in Islamabad and disperse anti-blasphemy protesters who have been demonstrating in the capital for the past fortnight.

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.

Seemingly emboldened by the failure of the government to clear the protests, which have almost paralysed the capital, Khadim Hussain Rizvi - the firebrand cleric who leads the Tehreek-e Labbaik Pakistan party - has called for protesters to bring the whole country to a halt.

Pakistani police have launched an operation to clear an intersection linking capital Islamabad with the garrison city of Rawalpindi where an Islamist group's supporters have camped out for the last 20 days.

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 unsafe situation. The protesters have surrounded leadership and stopping police and Rangers. Police have also used water cannons to disperse the protesters.

The Dawn reported how the operation had to be suspended Saturday evening "when roughly 1,000 protesters unexpectedly entered Islamabad through the Express Highway to join the agitators". Lahore's entry and exist points have been blocked by the protesters.

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Pakistan blocked popular social media site including Facebook, Twitter and YouTube to stop protesters from uploading their messages.

Ahsan Iqbal said the demand of the protesters about the resignation of the law minister was unfair.

Ahsan Iqbal said that protesters had been holding Twin Cities of Islamabad and Rawalpindi hostage for last 20 days, adding that few elements were misleading innocent minds. Severe traffic jams, closed schools, suffering businesses all were the cons of this protest.

Army chief General Qamar Javed Bajwa talked to Prime Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi and asked him for a peaceful solution to the problem.

Pakistan Electronic Media Regulatory Authority (PEMRA) ordered the suspension of TV news channels' broadcast, stating that live coverage of a security operation was a violation of media regulations.

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