Posts Tagged ‘TLYRAP’

Pakistan Calls A Halt To Anti-Protest Operation After 7 Killed, 260 Injured

November 26, 2017

After bloodshed, police backed off protesters calling for a government minister’s resignation

ISLAMABAD, Pakistan—An operation to clear a protest by Islamist activists in the capital was on hold Sunday morning after at least seven people were killed and 260 injured Saturday when protesters clashed with police and paramilitary forces.

The protesters continued to block a major road between Islamabad and the adjacent city of Rawalpindi, with new numbers joining their ranks, according to government officials and the protesters. The activists, who are calling for the resignation of a minister they say is responsible for an insult to the Prophet Muhammad, have now blocked the road for more than two weeks.

Private television news channels were taken off the air and access to some social media sites, including Facebook and Twitter, were blocked Saturday and remained suspended Sunday.

While the government called in the army to help restore order as the violence threatened to spiral out of control Saturday, it was unclear Sunday whether soldiers had deployed. Tension between the government and the army was already running high before the government attempted to remove the Islamist activists.

The crackdown in the capital sparked protests by sympathizers elsewhere in the country, including Karachi and Lahore, its two biggest cities. Those continued Sunday with sit-ins on roads.

Some 8,000 police and paramilitary personnel carried out the operation in Islamabad on Saturday with tear gas, baton charges and more than 140 arrests, officials said. But they couldn’t dislodge the protesters.

It was unclear when and where protesters were killed. Some had bullet wounds, according to hospital doctors.

A sit in on an Islamabad street was quiet on Sunday after bloody clashes the day before.Photo: Anjum Naveed/Associated Press

The operation was suspended Saturday night, according to security officials and Pakistan Television, the state-owned broadcaster. PTV reported Sunday that the operation was on hold “for the time being,” with paramilitary forces and police deployed some distance from the protesters.

The demonstrators say they are there to protect the dignity of the Prophet Muhammad, after legislation proposed a change in the oath that members of parliament take to swear that Muhammad was the final prophet. They have demanded the resignation of the law minister, Zahid Hamid, whom they blame for the change.

Security officials said privately that the army is wary of being dragged into the controversy, and that the army isn’t designed for riot control. The military didn’t respond to requests for comment on Sunday, but on Saturday it called for the situation be resolved peacefully.

Interior Minister Ahsan Iqbal had said Saturday that government was following court orders to clear the route between Islamabad and Rawalpindi.

“The last thing Pakistan needs is the instigation of agitation using people’s religious sentiment,” said Mr. Iqbal said Saturday.

The protesters are from the mainstream Barelvi sect of Islam and organized around a group called Tehreek Labbaik Ya Rasool Allah, which formed a political party in recent weeks. It campaigns on the issue of keeping in place Pakistan’s draconian blasphemy laws, which carry the death penalty for anyone insulting the Prophet Muhammad.

Ejaz Ashrafi, a spokesman for the group, said large numbers of people were present Sunday morning at the protest site, including their leader, Khadim Rizvi. Reporters at the site estimated the numbers at about 3,000. He said they are sticking to their demand for the minister to resign.

The South Asian nation’s democracy has been in a precarious position since the ousting of Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif earlier this year. The country, a U.S. ally, has been abuzz for months with speculation about the fall of the government and the possibility that elections due next year will be postponed.

Mr. Sharif, whose party remains in office, has repeatedly pointed at the military establishment as the force behind his removal.

Write to Saeed Shah at saeed.shah@wsj.com

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Islamist protesters clash with Pakistan police for second day — At least 6 dead, 25 wounded

November 26, 2017

ISLAMABAD, Pakistan (Reuters) – Islamist party activists on Sunday clashed with security forces for a second day on the outskirts of Pakistan’s capital, Islamabad, burning vehicles before withdrawing to a protest camp they have occupied for more than two weeks, police said.

Image result for Islamabad, burning vehicles, photos

Pakistani police officer aims his gun towards the protesters next to a burning police vehicle during a clash in Islamabad Pakistan.|PTI

According media reports at least six people were killed on the previous day, when several thousand police and paramilitary tried to disperse a sit-in protest by the religious hard-liners, who have blocked the main route into the capital from the neighboring garrison city of Rawalpindi.

More than 125 people were wounded in Saturday’s failed crackdown, and police superintendent Amir Niazi said 80 members of the security forces were among the casualties.

On Sunday morning, smoke billowed from the charred remains of a car and three motorcycles near the protest camp, where several thousand members of the Tehreek-e-Labaid party have gathered in defiance.

Police and paramilitary forces had surrounded the camp in the Faizabad district between the two cities, but no army troops were on the scene, despite a call the night before by the civilian government for the military to help restore order.

”We will move when we have orders,“ Niazi, the police superintendent, said on Saturday. ”What the protesters did yesterday was in no means was lawful. They attacked our forces.”

Pakistani residents walk past a burning prison van torched by protesters during clashes with police in Rawalpindi on November 25. (AFP)

Activists from Tehreek-e-Labaik have blocked the main road into the capital for two weeks, accusing the law minister of blasphemy against Islam and demanding his dismissal and arrest.

“We are in our thousands. We will not leave. We will fight until end,” Tehreek-e-Labaik party spokesman Ejaz Ashrafi told Reuters on Saturday.

Tehreek-e-Labaik is one of two new ultra-religious political movements that became prominent in recent months.

While Islamist parties are unlikely to win a majority they could play a major role in elections that must be held by summer next year.

Tehreek-e-Laibak was born out of a protest movement lionizing Mumtaz Qadri, a bodyguard of the governor of Punjab province who gunned down his boss in 2011 over his call to reform strict blasphemy laws.

The party won a surprisingly strong 7.6 percent of the vote in a by-election in Peshawar last month.

Writing by Kay Johnson; Editing by Simon Cameron-Moore

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Pakistan government calls in army as Islamist protests spread

November 25, 2017

AFP

© Aamir Qureshi, AFP | An injured activist from the Tehreek-i-Labaik Yah Rasool Allah Pakistan (TLYRAP) religious group is carried away from clashes with police in Islamabad on November 25, 2017.

Text by NEWS WIRES

Latest update : 2017-11-25

Pakistan’s government on Saturday called on the army to help clear a sit-in by Islamist hard-liners blockading the capital after police clashed with activists and religious protests spread to other cities.

Dozens of people were injured in Saturday’s clashes, including many police, according to reports from hospitals. Protesters said four of their activists had been killed, but police said there had been no deaths.

By nightfall, protests spread to other main cities with activists brandishing sticks and attacking cars in some areas.

 TV: Army summoned to disperse Islamist sit-ins https://apnews.com/5bb41063b66c4efd87159c3c161bf3df 

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Pakistani police launch operation to clear Islamist rally

ISLAMABAD (AP) — Police launched an operation to clear an intersection linking the Pakistani capital Islamabad with the garrison city of Rawalpindi where an Islamist group’s suppo

apnews.com

New demonstrators had joined the camp in Faizabad, just outside Islamabad, in a stand-off with police.

Private TV stations were ordered off the air, with only state-run television broadcasting.

Activists from Tehreek-e-Labaik, a new hard-line Islamist political party, have blockaded the main road into the capital for two weeks, accusing the law minister of blasphemy against Islam and demanding his dismissal and arrest.

“We are in our thousands. We will not leave. We will fight until end,” Tehreek-e-Labaik party spokesman Ejaz Ashrafi told Reuters by telephone from the scene.

Tehreek-e-Labaik is one of two new ultra-religious political movements that have risen up in recent months and seem set to play a major role in elections that must be held by summer next year, though they are unlikely to win a majority.

Chaos and “conspiracy”

Interior Minister Ahsan Iqbal told Reuters in a message on Saturday night that the government had “requisitioned” the military assistance “for law and order duty according to the constitution”.

The ruling party of former prime minister Nawaz Sharif – who was disqualified by the Supreme Court in July and is facing a corruption trial – has a fraught history with the military, which in 1999 launched a coup to oust Sharif from an earlier term.

Earlier in the day, Iqbal said the protests were part of a conspiracy to weaken the government, which is now run by Sharif’s allies under a new prime minister, Shahid Khaqan Abbasi.

“There are attempts to create a chaos in (the) country,” Iqbal said on state-run Pakistan TV.

“I have to say with regret that a political party that is giving its message to people based on a very sacred belief is being used in the conspiracy that is aimed at spreading anarchy in the country,” Iqbal added, without saying who he considered responsible.

Pakistan’s army chief on Saturday called on the civilian government to end the protest while “avoiding violence from both sides”. Opposition leader Imran Khan called for early elections, saying the “incompetent and dithering” administration had allowed a breakdown of governance.

The clashes began on Saturday when police launched an operation involving some 4,000 officers to disperse around 1,000 activists and break up their camp, police official Saood Tirmizi told Reuters.

Television footage showed a police vehicle on fire, heavy curtains of smoke and fires burning in the streets as officers in heavy riot gear advanced. Protesters, some wearing gas masks, fought back in scattered battles across empty highways and surrounding neighbourhoods.

The protesters have paralysed daily life in the capital, and have defied court orders to disband.

Tehreek-e-Labaik blames the law minister, Zahid Hamid, for changes to an electoral law that changed a religious oath proclaiming Mohammad the last prophet of Islam to the words “I believe”, a change the party says amounts to blasphemy.

The government put the issue down to a clerical error and swiftly changed the language back.

Tehreek-e-Laibak was born out of a protest movement lionizing Mumtaz Qadri, a bodyguard of the governor of Punjab province who gunned down his boss in 2011 over his call to reform strict blasphemy laws.

The party won a surprisingly strong 7.6 percent of the vote in a by-election in Peshawar last month.

More join protests

The government had tried to negotiate an end to the sit-in, fearing violence during a crackdown similar to 2007, when clashes between authorities and supporters of a radical Islamabad mosque led to the deaths of more than 100 people.  Despite the police crackdown, the protesters were largely still in place by nightfall and Tehreek-e-Labaik leader Khadim Hussain Rizvi, a prominent cleric, remained at the site, party activist Mohammad Shafiq Ameeni said.

Four protesters had died in the police crackdown, he added.

By late afternoon, Tehreek-e-Labaik supporters were coming out on the streets in other Pakistani cities in support.

Police fired tear gas in Karachi, the southern port that is Pakistan’s largest city, to try to disperse about 500 demonstrators near the airport.

Outside the northwestern city of Peshawar, about 300 protesters blocked the motorway to Islamabad and started attacking vehicles with stones and sticks.

In the eastern city of Lahore, party supporters blocked three roads into the city.

(Reuters)