Pakistan Deploys Paramilitary Units to Suppress Violent Islamist Protests

The federal cabinet in Pakistan deployed paramilitary forces overnight in several cities in the province of Punjab as angry Islamist protesters expressed anger after police arrested Tehreek-e-Labbaik Pakistan (TLP) leader Saad Rizvi.

Ghulam Mehmood Dogar, the chief of police in Punjab’s capital of Lahore, said that three people, including two police officers, were killed in violent clashes between the authorities and protesters.

After visiting a local hospital, Dogar confirmed that 125 policemen were injured.

The TLP is known as a hardline Islamist group that has been actively denouncing any form of blasphemy against Islam.

The protests started on Monday when authorities arrested Rizvi for allegedly instigating the murder of a police constable and threatening to stage protests if the Pakistani government refuses to expel a French ambassador over depictions of Prophet Muhammad.

In an announcement on Tuesday, Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan declared that TLP would not be allowed to cause disruption and stir up unrest under the guise of holding protests.

“The government was constantly negotiating with them [TLP] but they were preparing for a protest,” Khan said in a press release. “We received information about some miscreants using the march as an opportunity to disturb law and order. We can’t allow that to happen.”

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