Pakistan Law Minister Zahid Hamid has resigned. It has been learnt that Hamid has tendered his resignation to Pakistan Prime Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi. According to reports, the report will be accepted. Hamid’s decision to quit has come in the wake of violent clashes erupted across the country between police and protesters belonging to hard-line religious groups, leaving six people dead and more than 200 others injured in the capital. Army was called to restore peace.
Violence spread to other parts of the country after the police aided by paramilitary Rangers and Frontier Constabulary yesterday lunched a massive operation here against activists of Tehreek-i-Khatm-i-Nabuwwat, Tehreek-i-Labaik Ya Rasool Allah and Sunni Tehreek Pakistan religious groups who had been blocking a key highway to Islamabad for nearly three weeks. Police and paramilitary forces fired tear gas shells and rubber bullets at the protesters to disperse them. However, the security forces pulled back after the crackdown turned deadly. The reports said that no security personnel was killed but at least nine senior police officers were injured, including Rawalpindi city police chief Israr Abbasi.
According to health officials, more than 200 people, including at least 95 security personnel, were injured in the clashes and have been shifted to various hospitals.
Prime Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi chaired a high-level meeting today to review the prevailing security situation in the country. Army chief General Qamar Javed Bajwa, ISI chief Lt-General Naveed Mukhtiar, interior minister Ahsan Iqbal and Punjab chief minister Shahbaz Sharif attended the meeting.
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The meeting decided to make another effort for peaceful ending of the protests, official sources said, adding that it was also decided to hold talks with religious leaders to find an amicable solution to the problem. It was decided that the army would protect the sensitive buildings and departments in Islamabad.
The decision was taken due to fresh protests in different parts of the countries against the crackdown on clerics laying siege to capital Islamabad, official sources said. Police officials said that major cities were under stress due to blockade of major roads. In some places markets were also closed.
The Interior Ministry last night issued a statutory regulatory order to authorise the deployment of the army to control the law and order situation in the capital. General Bajwa was on a visit to the United Arab Emirates and cut short his trip to reach the country last night.
Earlier, he spoke to Abbasi over telephone and suggested to handle the protests peacefully “avoiding violence from both sides as it is not in national interest and cohesion”. Meanwhile, the government has restored news and TV channels which were taken off-air yesterday for showing live the police crackdown against the protestors.