PPP chairperson Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari on Wednesday lashed out at the government for allegedly leaving citizens "helpless" during three days of violent protests staged across the country by Tehreek-i-Labbaik Pakistan (TLP) activists following their leader's arrest.
In a statement, Bilawal "strongly condemned" the deadly violence seen in many parts of the country this week after Saad Hussain Rizvi was taken into custody.
"Such kind of torture, abductions, occupation of state and private properties and attacks on police personnel by enraged mobs cannot be allowed," the PPP leader said, according to a series of tweets by his party.
Demanding that action be taken against the people involved in the violence as per the law, Bilawal said the government could not be permitted to "avoid fulfilling its responsibility".
Starting on Monday, charged TLP activists blocked roads across the country, damaged public properties, clashed with police and even held some law-enforcement personnel hostage, videos of which were widely shared on social media. At least two policemen were killed and more than 300 injured in the violence.
Although the government avoided any major crackdown against the violence for the first two days, it announced on Wednesday that it will move a summary to ban the TLP under the anti-terrorism law.
Earlier today, law enforcement agencies and officials also moved to clear TLP activists from roads in different cities as protests entered a third day.
"The incidents of violence this week show that the selected government has pushed the country into a quagmire — a dangerous quagmire where nobody is safe," Bilawal alleged in his statement.
He said even police "appears in need of protection" in the tenure of the PTI-led government. "The government has left the people helpless," he added.
While conveying condolences for the police personnel and citizens killed in the violence, Bilawal called upon the government to ensure the injured are provided with proper treatment facilities.
On Tuesday, four people were killed, hundreds of protesters and policemen were injured and thousands of TLP activists and supporters were arrested and booked for attacking law enforcement personnel and blocking main roads and highways.
Why is TLP protesting?
The TLP is protesting against the arrest of their leader Rizvi and blasphemous caricatures published in France. They have demanded that the French ambassador be sent home and import of goods from that country banned.
The government had reached an agreement with the TLP on Nov 16 to involve the parliament to decide the matter in three months. As the Feb 16 deadline neared, the government had expressed its inability to implement the agreement and sought more time. The TLP had agreed to delay its protest by two-and-a-half months to April 20.
On Sunday, the party chief, in a video message, had asked the TLP workers to be ready to launch a long march if the government failed to meet the deadline. It had prompted the government to arrest him.
Police had swooped on Rizvi at around 2pm on Wahdat Road in Lahore on Monday where he had gone to attend a funeral. Outraged, the TLP had issued a call for countrywide protests.