Pak Issues Two-Hour Notice to Qadri's Supporters to End Sit-In

Sajjad Hussain/Islamabad
Pak Issues Two-Hour Notice to Qadri's Supporters to End Sit-In

Pakistan tonight gave a two-hour notice to the supporters of Mumtaz Qadri, executed for killing former Punjab governor Salman Taseer, to end their three-day sit-in as authorities arrested over 1,100 protesters who were demanding declaration of the Islamist assassin as a "martyr".

Over 25,000 protesters had entered and besieged Islamabad's high-security zone on Sunday, damaging public buildings and breaking barriers that had been erected.

While most of them left yesterday, a few hundred are still continuing their sit-ins outside the Parliament House and other key government installations for the third day today.

A protest leader claimed that more than 1,100 people were arrested by the police. But a senior police official said that about 750 protesters have been arrested since yesterday.

"Those arrested have been sent to various jails of Punjab. Others are being kept at police stations in Islamabad," he said.

Meanwhile, the district administration gave a two-hour notice to the protesters gathered at D-Chowk to end their sit-in or else the security forces will carry out operation to end their unlawful gathering, DawnNews reported.

Several hundred police personnel and paramilitary forces were deployed around the area after the ultimatum was issued.

The protesters led by Sunni Tehreek and Tehreek-i-Labbaik Ya Rasool religious groups entered the so-called high-security Red Zone after bloody clashes with police in which 42 security officials and 16 citizens have been injured so far.

They are demanding implementation of Shariah in Pakistan and declaring Qadri, who was hanged on February 29, a "martyr".

They also demanded release of their arrested leaders and declaring Qadri's Adiala Jail cell in Rawalpindi into a national heritage and execution of blasphemy convict Christian women Aasia Bibi who was sentenced to death in 2010 by a court.

Qadri, who was Taseer's security guard, has killed the sitting governor of Punjab, Pakistan's most populous state, in 2011 after he visited Aasia Bibi in her jail cell and expressed support for her, even promising a presidential pardon to the mother-of-five.

The government estimates that it had suffered a loss of about 150 million rupees due to vandalism by the protesters.

The terminals of Metro bus service have been badly damaged and the bus service had to be halted.

Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif has also come under immense pressure from the media, civil society and opposition, for letting the protesters enter the Red Zone.

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