Six killed, 250 injured, Pakistan Army summoned to control Islamabad situation

Law Minister Zahid Hamid

Thousands of riot police and paramilitary fired tear gas, water cannon and rubber bullets at the Islamist demonstrators during the clearing operations.

The interior ministry issued a statutory regulatory order authorising the deployment of the army to help the civil administration regain control of law and order in the Islamabad Capital Territory.

Private TV channels in Pakistan, went off air today in protest against a government order banning coverage of an incident in Islamabad's Faizabad.

Reports said army troops were meant to secure sensitive installations, diplomatic enclaves, as well as the offices of the judiciary, parliament, presidency, prime minister, and Foreign Ministry.

The operation was launched after Islamabad High Court on Friday issued contempt of court notice against interior minister Ahsan Iqbal for failing to implement orders to clear the roads.

Its ability to survive "depends on the trajectory of the protests", he said.

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.

Saturday's unrest in Islambad had spilled into cities across the country, including Karachi where roads were blocked and demonstrations were held.

Besides demanding to immediately summon the National Assembly session, opposition parties are set to unanimously target the incumbent government over its "flopped strategy" to disperse protesters holding sit-in at the Faizabad Interchange. Police seized containers across Punjab to create blockades to prevent protests.

They are asking for resignation of the law minister for adding amendment to the clause pertaining to the finality of prophet-hood oath for electoral candidates.

With the protest intensifying with each passing day, at least six people were killed and 230 injured before the forces retreated from the Islamabad streets late on Saturday.

About 100 protesters were arrested Saturday, said Fakhar Sultan, a police officer in Rawalpindi city.

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.

Markets and shops were shuttered in the megacity, Pakistan's commercial hub, as alarmed residents stayed inside, while hardline clerics urged more people to take to the streets. Hospitals said most of the wounded had been released Sunday, with only around 20 still needing treatment.

The protests spread to other cities in Pakistan, including Karachi, Lahore, Hyderabad and Faisalabad.

The Punjab government has also ordered all educational institutions to remain closed for the next two days owing to the law and order situation in the province.



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