'War-like situation in Pakistan', protest continues over arrest of Islamist party leader
Violent protests continued in Pakistan on Tuesday for the second day against the arrest of radical Islamist party leader as demonstrators blocked roads in several major Pakistani cities, including the country's largest city of Karachi, Al Jazeera reported.
Visuals were making rounds on the internet where scores of protestors were seen swarming the streets across all major cities, including Lahore and Rawalpindi.
"War-like situation in Pakistan. Situation is out of control in Pakistan as Lakhs of protestors gathered against Imran Khan Govt and Pak Army," said one of the users.
On Wednesday, Pakistan Interior Minister Sheikh Rashid Ahmed had announced that the government has decided to ban the radical Islamist Tehreek-i-Labbaik Pakistan (TLP), whose supporters and workers have been carrying out violent protests across the country for three days after the arrest of their chief.
According to Dawn, he said the religiopolitical outfit would be banned under Rule 11(b) of the Anti-Terrorism Act (ATA), 1997.
Rashid said the Punjab government had recommended a ban on the organisation, for which a summary was being sent to the federal cabinet. He said TLP leaders used to come to all rounds of talks with the government after issuing instructions to their workers regarding road closures.
"They were more prepared than us but today we've decided that [a] ban on TLP [will be placed] and this file is going to the cabinet for the approval from today," the minister said.
The minister's statement came after law enforcement agencies and officials moved to clear TLP activists from roads in different cities of the country as protests entered the third day.
Rashid said that the TLP workers through blocking roads had stopped ambulances from reaching their destinations and impeded the transport of oxygen cylinders for Covid-19 patients.
He called upon TLP members "who are running the media" to surrender, saying they were mistaken in their belief that they could create problems for the government through social media.
"We want a document that exalts the flag of the Prophet (PBUH), but what you are demanding gives an impression of us being an extremist-minded state to the world," he told the TLP leadership.
The TLP is protesting against the arrest of their leader Saad Hussain Rizvi, who was taken into custody earlier this week, and blasphemous caricatures published in France. They have demanded that the French ambassador be sent home and import of goods from that country banned, as reported by Dawn.
According to media reports, the Imran Khan-led Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf government signed an agreement with the TLP in November last agreeing to expel the French Ambassador.
The TLP launched a massive protest in November last year against the cartoons but dispersed after the agreement with the government to expel the Ambassador by February. The deal was extended until April 20.