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Demonstrations, roadblocks paralyse life across country as standoff continues in Islamabad

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Police arrest religious activists during protest in Lahore. —Online
Police arrest religious activists during protest in Lahore. —Online

The unrest in Islamabad following a crackdown against religious protesters camped out at Faizabad has spilled over to other parts of the country, as men loyal to various religious parties have started holding disruptive demonstrations in various cities.

In Sialkot, scores of men also attacked the residence of Law Minister Zahid Hamid, whose resignation is the number one demand of the Faizabad protesters. Fortunately, no one from his family was present when the attackers started pelting stones at the building. Following the attack, the security forces arrested at least 12 suspects from the area and summoned reinforcements.

Separately in Sheikhupura, PML-N lawmaker Javed Latif was attacked and injured by angry protesters when he tried to negotiate with them.

Karachi

Demonstrations had started in the morning after protesters gathered at Numaish Chowrangi, one of the city's busiest traffic interchanges. Other areas which were affected include Teen Talwar, Boat Basin, Nipa, Sohrab Goth, Shahrah-i-Faisal near Stargate and Nursery, Hub River Road and Hassan Square, where both tracks of the road remained closed for traffic for hours.

At least 23 people including two policemen were reportedly injured, some with gunshot wounds, in skirmishes with police at Stargate and Nursery, where police fired tear gas shells to break up the protests.

Protesters were turned away from Natha Khan Chowk by Sindh Rangers and police after a vehicle belonging to a private company was set on fire. The occupants of the vehicle had escaped safely and the area has reportedly been cleared.

Malir SSP Rao Anwar Ahmed told Dawn that the “miscreants of one organisation” came from Shah Faisal Colony and they allegedly “hijacked” the protest.

“One of the men among the protesters was armed with SMG rifle, who resorted to firing on the policemen, resultantly Memon Goth SHO Gulzar Tunio and constable Sabir sustained bullet wounds,” said the officer.

Reports were also received of enraged protesters burning tyres and forcibly closing businesses in various areas of the metropolis.

Sindh Chief Minister Murad Ali Shah has taken notice of the unrest and directed the commissioner and inspector general of police to clear the traffic.

Hyderabad/Sindh

Protesters blocked the busy Haider Chowk area in Hyderabad, while a large number of religious activists staged demonstrations in Sukkur, Umerkot, Mithi, Sujawal and other cities to register their protests.

Various religious organisations also staged a protest demonstration outside the Badin Press Club, demanding a halt in the use of violence against protesters camped out in the capital.

The National Highway near Khairpur also remained blocked for over three hours.

Lahore/Punjab

Religious activists shout slogans against the govt during a protest in Lahore. —AFP
Religious activists shout slogans against the govt during a protest in Lahore. —AFP

A large number of demonstrators converged earlier in the day at Shahdara in Lahore. There were reports of similar protests at Imamia Colony and other settlements along the GT Road. Roads from Lahore to Gujranwala and Faisalabad also remained closed.

The other affected areas include Mall Road , Bhatta Chowk, Ferozepur Road, Shah Alami Chowk, Thokar Niaz Baig, Walton Road, Mughalpura, Garhi Shahu and Johar Town.

Meanwhile, protests were also reported from other cities of the province, including Gujranwala, Multan, Nakana Sahib. Mianwali, Gujrat, Sahiwal, Vehari, Toba Tek Singh and Murree.

Massive traffic congestion has also been reported on the Lahore-Islamabad Motorway, with suffering travelers reporting being stranded for hours.

Peshawar

Supporters of religious groups burn tires at a rally in Peshawar. —AP
Supporters of religious groups burn tires at a rally in Peshawar. —AP

Protesters in Peshawar blocked the provincial capital's main Ring Road, which is also used for Afghan transit trade.

The protest caused a massive traffic jam in the area, and the protesters appeared determined to continue until their demands were met. They had begun setting up camps and are collecting donations to arrange food for the night when last reports were received.

Protests had also erupted in other cities of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, including Haripur, Mansehra and Dera Ismail Khan.

Quetta

After violent clashes in the federal capital, workers of religious organisations turned out on the roads of Quetta to vent their anger. The angry protesters blocked the main Hockey Chowk, causing a serious traffic jam in the city.

The protesters, led by Maulana Abdul Qudoos Sasoli, raised slogans against the federal government and security personnel. However, they reportedly dispersed later after negotiations with law enforcement personnel.