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Pakistan: Religious parties occupy the Capital city

Tuesday 29 March 2016, by siawi3


Pro-Qadri protesters given the night to disperse on their own: Nisar — March 29, 2016. Updated 42 minutes ago

ISLAMABAD: Interior Minister Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan announced that the government will clear the D-Chowk of protesters on Wednesday “at any cost”, if they don’t disperse by themselves in the night.

While addressing a press conference on Tuesday night, Nisar said “if the protest doesn’t end in the next one hour, then we will clear the Red Zone in the morning”.

It is not difficult to conduct an operation but there are innocent people in there who have been mislead, “we don’t want bloodshed and want this to end peacefully”, said Nisar.

“The government is trying its best to protect people’s lives, but will make sure that it ends tomorrow anyhow.”

Currently the administration is discussing the issue that who should be allowed to leave and who shouldn’t as some miscreant elements are using the protesters as human shields, he maintained.

A rally organised by the Sunni Tehreek (ST) saw more than 10,000 charged protesters enter the federal capital on Sunday, damaging buildings and setting fire to the metro station, containers and buses.

The interior minister held Punjab government responsible for the security lapse but went on to say that the religious parties violated the written commitments they had made earlier.

“The permission to hold the gathering to mark chehlum of Mumtaz Qadri was granted on the written assurance that the participants will disperse in the evening following the Asar prayers. But a section of the gathering violated the commitment and resorted to violence.”

Some people tried to do politics under the cover of a religious gathering, he added.

Qadri, an Elite Force commando, was executed at Rawalpindi’s Adiala Jail on February 29. Qadri shot Taseer 28 times in broad daylight in Islamabad’s Kohsar Market on January 4, 2011.

Referring to the slogans chanted by the protesters, Nisar said “mere slogans don’t get you jannah, but you righteous actions do”.

“The Holy Prophet (PBUH) always kept his commitments. But unfortunately some people are carrying out violent activities in the name of the Holy Prophet (PBUH).”

Nisar maintained that legal action will definitely be taken against the people who caused damage to the state installations and announced that some arrests have already been.

A committee has been formed to closely monitor the security situation and access the shortcomings which lead to these people entering the Red Zone, he said.

We had already shared intelligence based information with the Punjab government, but it failed to control the situation and will be held answerable for its negligence, the interior minister said.

"But once the people had gathered, regardless of how, then it would have been inappropriate to exercise force against them."

Additional reinforcements have been called and written orders have been passed that if there is a need to conduct an operation, then no security personnel — even an officer — will be armed, asserted Nisar.

The clean-up operation will be done in broad daylight in front of media so that everyone is witness to “who does what”, he said.

“I am thankful to the media for being sensible in handling the issue.”

The Islamabad district administration had earlier given the pro-Qadri protesters gathered outside Parliament House a two-hour notice to disperse.

The sit-in continued despite Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif’s Monday night address to the nation during which he warned radical Islamists not to take the government’s leniency as a sign of weakness.

The address followed a massive suicide bombing at Lahore’s Gulshan-i-Iqbal park in which at least 72 people were killed.

The army responded by launching raids on suspected militant hideouts across Punjab.

More than 200 suspects have been detained in the raids in the past 48 hours, a security official said.


Nearly 2,000 pro-Qadri protesters continue sit-in outside Parliament

AFP | Imtiaz Ali | Irfan Haider | Haseeb Bhatti —
Updated a day ago

ISLAMABAD: Around 2,000 people protesting the execution of Mumtaz Qadri — a former Punjab police commando hanged last month for assassinating Punjab governor Salman Taseer — are staging a sit-in at D-Chowk within the capital’s Red Zone.

The demonstration that started early Sunday evening is still underway although the crowd has diminished from 10,000 to around 2,000 protesters.

People look at trucks burnt by supporters of Sunni Tehreek during a march toward the parliament.─AP

The protesters led by Sunni Tehreek (ST) and Tehreek-i-Labbaik Ya Rasool (SAW) leadership had arrived in the capital on Sunday to attend Qadri’s chehlum presented a charter of demand before the government and announced to stay in the Red Zone unless the government accepts these demands, which include implementation of Shariah in the country and declaring Mumtaz Qadri a martyr.

The set of 10 demands issued under the banner of the Tehreek-i-Labbaik Ya Rasool (SAW), include the unconditional release of all Sunni clerics and leaders booked on various charges, including terrorism and murder; the recognition of Mumtaz Qadri as a martyr and the conversion of his Adiala Jail cell into a national heritage site; assurances that the blasphemy laws will not be amended; and the removal of Ahmadis and other non-Muslims who had occupied key posts.

Supporters of the religious parties chant slogans during a sit-in protest near the parliament building in Islamabad.─AP

They also demanded the execution of blasphemy accused Aasia Bibi, the woman former Punjab Governor Salmaan Taseer was killed for defending.

Related: Liaquat Bagh to D-Chowk — a trail of destruction

The government on Sunday called in the army to control the law and order situation in the capital after some protesters resorted to violence and allegedly damaged public property.

The protest had turned violent as participants removed containers and blockades on the way to the Parliament House and also set some containers to fire before arriving outside the building where fiery anti-government speeches are being delivered.

Riot police had used tear gas and batons to disperse the stone-pelting crowd from the high-security zone outside the parliament building.

A policeman fires teargas shell towards the supporters of Mumtaz Qadri during a clash in Islamabad on March 27, 2016. – AFP

Related: Violent mobs catch law enforcers off guard

Several major arteries leading to Islamabad were closed by authorities to block the crowd’s route.

Cellular services were suspended in the Red Zone and adjoining areas before dawn on Monday.

Sunday’s protest was almost entirely ignored by the media, which has increasingly become subject to government-ordered news blackouts designed to prevent unrest from spiralling out of control.

Regulatory body Pemra had cautioned channels against “jeopardising the National Action Plan” and said they should avoid coverage “driven by crass commercialisation like in India.”

Qadri, was working as a bodyguard for Punjab governor Salmaan Taseer when he shot him 29 times in 2011 over the governor’s call to reform the blasphemy law, which critics say is frequently misused to oppress religious minorities.

Blasphemy is a hugely sensitive issue in Pakistan, where even unproven allegations can stir mob violence and lynchings.

Critics including European governments say the country’s blasphemy laws are often misused to settle personal scores.