Courts Blast Government Over Protest Paralysis


Following the protests in Islamabad, protests in other cities were also reported.

Government orders troop deployment after clashes between anti-blasphemy protesters and police leave over 170 injured.

But their weeks of inaction have sparked the wrath of residents as well as Pakistan's judiciary, with the Supreme Court issuing a blistering statement earlier in the week and the Islamabad High Court threatening to hold officials in contempt.

The protestors demand that Federal Law Minister Zahid Hamid step down for his alleged role in a recent amendment which now stands withdrawn.

The list of those injured includes 111 police or other security forces, Dr. Tahir Nadeem, a physician at Pakistani Institute of Medical Services told Al Jazeera.

Local media reported that about 150 protesters in Islamabad had been arrested by police, who used water cannon, rubber bullets and tear gas.

The Pakistan Electronic Media Regulatory Authority took private television stations off the air.

Heavy contingents of police, FC and Rangers were deployed to the interchange.

The army chief, General Qamar Javed Bajwa, advised Prime Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi on Saturday to "handle the Islamabad dharna peacefully".

Pakistan's media regulator barred local TV channels from broadcasting live images from the scene, though protesters were still using Facebook Live and other social media.

But protest leaders were adamant and refused to clear the intersection unless the law minister resigned.

"Patients dying for want of access to hospitals, traders crying for lack of business activity, students are being deprived from their right to education and [the] right of free movement of nearly six million people of [the] twin cities [is being] usurped", he said.

Later in the day, security forces appeared to face difficulty clearing the crucial intersection as more and more supporters joined protesters at the site, a bridge between the capital and Rawalpindi. "We can see that they have various resources at their disposal".

According to reports, dozens of protesters have been detained.

Authorities have hesitated to act against the sit-in, citing fears of violence as the demonstrators have vowed to die for their cause.

Incensed by the government crackdown on the Faizabad sit-in, several men affiliated with a religious group attacked the residence of Law Minister Zahid Hamid in his hometown of Pasrur, Sialkot district. A mob attacked former Interior Minister Nisar Ali Khan's house in Rawalpindi and broke the main gate of his house.