Pakistan issues ‘last warning’ to Islamists blocking route into capital

0

ISLAMABAD – Pakistani authorities issued a final warning on Friday to members of an Islamist party blocking a main road into the capital, raising fears of a violent clash.

Hundreds of supporters of the Tehreek-e-Labaik Pakistan party have been blocking the route into Islamabad for nearly 10 days, demanding the minister of law be sacked for what they say is blasphemy.

- ADVERTISEMENT -

“You all are being given a last warning,” the Islamabad deputy commissioner said in the order.

A court had already ordered the party to end the protest, the order added. “After this final announcement, you all are being warned to end the illegal sit-in immediately.”

Tehreek-e-Labaik blames the minister, Zahid Hamid, for changes to an electoral oath that it says amount to blasphemy. The government puts the issue down to a clerical error.

Pakistan’s blasphemy law is a lightning rod for Islamists, especially since 2011 when the liberal governor of Punjab province, Salman Taseer, was murdered by a bodyguard for questioning it. The law mandates the death penalty for insulting Islam or the Prophet Mohammad.

A spokesman for the Labaik party, Ejaz Ashrafi, said the group would not comply with the deputy commissioner’s ultimatum.

“We’re not moving,” he told Reuters by phone from the sit-in.

Pakistan’s Interior Minister Ahsan Iqbal appealed to the protesters to end the sit-in before a delegation of Chinese investors arrived in Islamabad on Monday, making a last offer to negotiate on their demands.

But he added: “If some group tries to hold the state hostage, that behaviour will not be tolerated.”

A government official, Khalid Abbasi, said protesters on the road were carrying rods and sticks. Since they were given the warning, he said, hundreds more party workers had joined the sit-in.

The government has blocked several roads with shipping containers in an effort to corral the protesters, causing hours-long traffic jams in and around the capital.

In 2007, a confrontation between authorities and supporters of radical preachers at an Islamabad mosque led to more than 100 deaths.

“All resources can be used to break this sit-in,” the deputy commissioner’s warning said.

Share

LEAVE A REPLY

Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here

Yes, I would like to receive emails from DESI TALK Headlines!. Sign me up!


By submitting this form, you are consenting to receive marketing emails from: News India Times | Desi Talk Headlines | Desi Talk Chicago, 35 JOURNAL SQ, JERSEY CITY, NJ, 07306, http://www.newsindiatimes.com. You can revoke your consent to receive emails at any time by using the SafeUnsubscribe® link, found at the bottom of every email. Emails are serviced by Constant Contact