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Islamabad: Pakistan crisis: All about Islamist protests in the country

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NEW DELHI: A group of 2,000 protesters belonging to the Tehreek-i-Labaik Ya Rasool Allah (TLY) Pakistan began a sit-in at Islamabad’s Faizabad Interchange on November 6.

The hardline group is led by cleric named Khadim Hussain Rizvi. Traditionally moderate, the TLY hardened its stand after the execution of Barelvi follower Mumtaz Qadri in 2016. A year earlier, Qadri had assassinated the governor of Punjab Salman Taseer who was known for his liberal views on blasphemy laws.

The sit-ins in Islamabad were called after an alleged deliberate modification in the oath taken by politicians during the passage of the Elections Act, 2017. The modification was deemed a ‘clerical error’ and quickly reverted.

Nevertheless, members of TLY have been demanding the resignation of Law Minister Zahid Hamid who is being accused of facilitating the controversial amendments.

Since the protests began, the Supreme Court, the High Court and other religious groups have repeatedly urged the protesters to call off the agitation. The government even tried to diffuse the tensions by initiating several rounds of discussions.

On Saturday, three weeks after the protest began, 8,500 armed security personnel, including police and the paramilitary Rangers and Frontier Corps tried to remove the protesters.

The security forces were met with stubborn resistance even as protests spread to other cities in Pakistan, including Karachi and Lahore.

A large number of news channels went off air following the notification of Pakistan Electronic Media Regulatory Authority prohibiting live coverage of security operations.

By Saturday evening, the federal government ordered the deployment of the army in Islamabad.

By the end of the day, six people were killed and more than 125 people were injured, including 80 members of the security forces.

(With inputs from AFP)

Updated: November 26, 2017 — 3:45 pm

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