Pakistan calls in army as Islamabad protests turn violent

Violent protests were also reported from several other cities including Karachi and Lahore.

"Why they did it (contacted India), we are looking into it".

Pakistan Electronic Media Regulatory Authority (PEMRA) ordered media houses to stop live coverage and temporarily suspended several channels, including Geo TV, for failing to follow the directive.

"COAS [chief of army staff] telephoned PM. They have fired teargas shells (at security forces), they also cut the fibre-optic cables of cameras monitoring their protest.They have inside information and resources that are being used against the state", he told DawnNews.

So far one police official was martyred in I-8 Sector during the clashes while almost 200 persons of both sides had been injured. The move has expectedly invited sharp criticism from the media fraternity in the neighbouring country where religious outfits have a history of holding the country to ransom.

It is worth mentioning that the government's strict decision of operation against the Faizabad protestors has backfired and protests have erupted throughout the nation.

Pakistan blocked popular social media site including Facebook, Twitter and YouTube to stop protesters from uploading their messages.

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Earlier, the Islamabad police, with the help of Frontier Constabulary personnel and other law enforcement agencies, launched an operation against protesters after the last of a long series of deadlines lapsed on Saturday morning without response from the agitators.

Jamaat-e-Islami chief Sirajul Haq said the government's crackdown had further aggravated the situation, adding, the government should have engaged the protesters in negotiations to resolve the standoff peacefully. Protesters, some wearing gas masks, fought back in scattered battles across empty highways and surrounding neighbourhoods.

The siege played havoc with the more than half million commuters who daily travel between Islamabad and Rawalpindi.

"We will avoid any human casualty", he said.

What are the protests all about?

Dawn said the sit-in was being conducted by religious parties since November 8.

The group is demanding the resignation of the country's law minister for what it considers blasphemy after amended parliamentary bills weakened rules that require lawmakers to reference the Prophet Mohammed when taking their oaths.

  • Sonia Alvarado