At least one policeman was killed and more than 100 people were injured in Pakistan as law enforcers battled protestors in Islamabad and Rawalpindi, The Express Tribune reported.
On Saturday morning, 8,500 elite police and paramilitary troops in riot gear began an operation to clear out the protestors from Faizabad Intergate, which is the main gate between the two cities, Dawn reported. Law enforcement personnel have been using tear gas and rubber bullets to disperse the protestors, and have managed to clear about half of them.
Protestors have blocked the road leading from Islamabad to Rawalpindi since November 8, demanding that the country’s Law Minister Zahid Hamid resign for allegedly amending a sworn oath affirming a politician’s belief in the finality of prophethood, during the passage of the Elections Act, 2017. The government had deemed the amendment a “clerical error” and rectified it, but this did not appease the protestors.
The Islamabad High Court, the Pakistan Supreme Court and the heads of various religious parties have called the protest unlawful. The Islamabad High Court has said that the protest’s leaders have committed an act of terror.
News channels, social media blocked
Meanwhile, private news channels in Pakistan’s Capital Islamabad went off air on Saturday after the Pakistan Electronic Media Regulatory Authority suspended their transmission. An unidentified Pemra spokesperson told The Express Tribune that Prime Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi had issued the order.
Journalists and social media users in Pakistan also complained that networking websites like Facebook and Twitter had been blocked.
Geo TV reported that access to social media platforms was temporarily restored after 3 pm local time (3.30 pm Indian Standard Time) but was blocked again soon after.
Earlier on Saturday, Pemra had issued a notification prohibiting live media coverage of the Faizabad sit-in operation. The regulatory authority had asked television channels to “exhibit utmost sensitivity” while reporting on the security operation in Faizabad, and comply with laws related to electronic media in Pakistan. However, channels were blacked out after they violated the order.