Pakistan law minister resigns over police, protesters clashes

26

International desk, November 27: After the weeks-long protest that virtually paralysed the capital Islamabad and saw several people losing their lives, the government has finally given in to the demands of protesters camped out at Faizabad Interchange with Zahid Hamid resigning as the Federal Law Minister in Pakistan.The minister’s resignation comes in the aftermath of Saturday’s bot­ched operation against protesters at Faizabad and ‘successful negotiations’ with leaders of the demonstration late Sunday night, official sources and state broadcaster PTV say. Six people were killed while hundreds were injured during the operation that was eventually suspended.

The law minister’s resignation was the chief demand of the agitating parties, who have been staging a protest sit-in — today being its 20th day — in the capital to press the government for his removal.

According to PTV, the minister presented his resignation to Prime Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi to bring the country “out of a state of crisis”.According to media reports, Hamid made the decision during his meeting with Chief Minister of Pakistan’s Punjab province Shehbaz Sharif.

Earlier in the day, Law Minister Zahid Hamid released a video message on social media to assure the people that he believes in the finality of Prophet Muhammad (PBUH), a day after his family house was attacked in Punjab.

In the video, the law minister read out the oath that election candidates must take under the constitution.

The violent protests continued on Sunday, while the Pakistan army took up positions in government buildings.

Over 3,000 protesters gathered Sunday at the Faizabad intersection, the sit-in’s epicenter, which links the capital Islamabad with the garrison city of Rawalpindi. Some, angry over the police’s show of force the previous day, torched a car, three motorcycles and a guard post erected near the rally site Sunday. No casualties were reported.

Sunday’s violence came a day after a failed police operation to disperse the demonstrators caused the deaths of 10 people and injured over 250 others.

The clashes followed the police’s failed attempts at clearing the protest by followers of cleric Khadim Hussain Rizvi of the Tehreek-e-Labaik party.

The protesters were demanding the resignation of Zahid Hamid over an amendment to an electoral law approved by Parliament which removed an oath public servants had to take before assuming office, reiterating their belief in Mohammed as the last prophet of Islam.

Source: Agencies