Protesters fire teargas shells at security forces

Chelsea West
November 26, 2017

In its report submitted to the top court regarding the suo moto notice taken by a two-member bench pertaining to the ongoing protest, the spy agency revealed that the protesters had taken to the streets in a bid to gain popularity ahead of the next general elections.

Meanwhile, the Pakistan Electronic Media Regulatory Authority ordered a media blackout.

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

Senior police officer Ismatullah Junejo said police were swiftly clearing the venue as some 300 protesters ignored the final warning to disperse. "We do not want to cause further casualties [and] will adopt a new strategy soon".

An Islamabad police spokesman confirmed that a policeman was killed in the fighting after he was struck in the head by a rock, and an AFP journalist saw what appeared to be the body of at least one demonstrator lying on the road in the capital. However, it will unfair not to appreciate the efforts of religious scholars including Pir of Golra Sharif who came forward to end the stalemate peacefully but the organisers of the protestors regretfully did not hear to them as well. Despite a swift reversal, protesters still demand that Pakistan's law minister resign. The minister, Zahid Hamid, apologized for the omission - a phrase saying that Muhammad is the last prophet in Islam - saying it was a clerical error that was later corrected. Demonstrators have linked the action of law minister to Blasphemy, a highly contentious issue in Pakistan, and claim the oath was softened to enable the participation of Ahmadis, a long-persecuted minority sect. But later violence has led to injuries to as many as 200 people according to hospitals in Islamabad and Rawalpindi. More than 20 injured were taken to other hospitals. Some protesters can be seen throwing stones at police. Smoke was filled in the air as tear gas shells were fired.

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Later in the morning, seminary students from Rawalpindi reinforced the protesters who pushed back police and Frontier Constabulary forces.

Safoor Akram, 23, a police constable from the nearby town of Rawat, was among those tasked with being the first wave in the clearing operation against the protesters. They also ransacked a newly built metro bus terminal near the venue.

In Islamabad, thousands of security officials were deployed to break up the protests.

State television stations reported that security forces suspended the operation for some time.

The newspaper says 150 protesters were arrested as the operation kicked off. The blockage has paralysed the capital and blocked the traffic on the Islamabad Expressway since November 6.

Other reports by TheSundaySentinel

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