Pakistan’s religious parties call off protests after minister resigns

Pakistani Islamists who clashed with police at the weekend have called off national protests after the resignation of Law Minister Zahid Hamid.

After the weeks-long protest that paralysed the capital, the Pakistan government finally caved in to the demands of protesters camped out at Faizabad Interchange – the main highway connecting Islamabad and Rawalpindi.

The protest leaders called off sit-in at Fiazabad as well as countrywide protests country after their list of demands were accepted by the government.

At least six people are believed to have been killed when clashes erupted on Saturday and some 200 were injured.

Pakistan’s civilian government is being criticised for backing down in the crisis and mishandling the situation.

“On the assurance of the chief of army staff, we are calling off the sit-in,” protest leader Khadim Hussain Rizvi told several thousand demonstrators from the Tehreek-i-Labaik Ya Rasool Allah Party in Islamabad on Monday.

He said thousands of Tehreek-e-Labbaik followers had staged the protest sit-in solely for the protection of Khtam-e-Nabuwwat [Finality of the Prophethood of Prophet Muhammad (pbuh)].

Tehreek-e-Labaik activists have blocked the main road into the capital, Islamabad, since November 6, protesting for changing the wording in an electoral oath.

The party says the words “I believe”, used to replace the clause “I solemnly swear” in a proclamation of Mohammad as the religion’s last prophet, amount to blasphemy.

The government blamed the change on a clerical error and swiftly restored the original format.

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About the Author: Akhtar Jamal

Tribune International