Prime Minister Imran Khan on Friday lauded the services of police for dealing with the "organised violence" perpetrated by activists of the recently proscribed Tehreek-i-Labbaik Pakistan (TLP) across the country this week.
In a tweet, the premier also announced that the government would look after the families of the four police personnel martyred during the violence.
"I want to pay special tribute to our police force for their heroic stand against organised violence intended to create chaos to blackmail [the] government," he wrote, noting that four policemen were martyred and more than 600 injured during the unrest.
"Our nation is indebted to these heroes & we will look after the families of the martyrs," Imran added.
The TLP had taken to the streets across the country especially in Punjab after its chief Saad Hussain Rizvi was detained by security forces in Lahore.
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. Expulsion of the French ambassador to Pakistan was one of the key demands of the protesters.
The clashes saw authorities use water cannon, tear gas and rubber bullets to hold back crowds. This was followed by the police launching a crackdown against the protesters and getting roads cleared of protest camps.
“The security forces arrested 3,000 extremists/activists of the TLP during the last four days,” a Punjab police spokesperson earlier told Dawn.
On Thursday, the government slapped a ban on the TLP. A notification declaring it as a proscribed organisation was issued by the Ministry of Interior shortly after the federal cabinet approved a summary to ban the party.
The notification said: “The federal government has reasonable grounds to believe that the TLP is engaged in terrorism, [has] acted in a manner prejudicial to the peace and security of the country, [was] involved in creating anarchy in the country by intimidating the public, caused grievous bodily harm, hurt and death to the personnel of law enforcement agencies and innocent by-standers, attacked civilians and officials, created wide-scale hurdles, threatened, abused and promoted hatred, vandalised and ransacked public and government properties including vehicles and caused arson, blocked essential health supplies to hospitals, and has threatened, coerced, intimidated, and overawed the government [and] the public and created sense of fear and insecurity in the society and the public at large."
Copies of the notification were sent to authorities concerned, including the secretaries of different ministries and divisions, State Bank governor, Election Commission of Pakistan secretary and director general passports.
The National Counter Terrorism Authority had also swiftly added the TLP to the list of banned terrorist organisations taking the total number of such outfits to 79.
In an effort to keep the ulema in the loop, the religious affairs minister had also hosted an Iftar-dinner in honour of religious scholars where Interior Minister Sheikh Rashid Ahmed had briefed them on the reasons for banning the TLP.