Islamabad: Pakistan tonight said it will forcibly remove tomorrow the supporters of Mumtaz Qadri, executed for killing former Punjab governor Salman Taseer, to end their stir as authorities arrested over 1,100 protesters demanding declaration of the Islamist assassin as a “martyr”.
Over 25,000 protesters had entered and besieged Islamabad’s high-security zone on Sunday, damaging public buildings and breaking barriers that had been erected.
While most of them left yesterday, a few hundred are still continuing their sit-ins outside the Parliament House and other key government installations for the third day today.
Interior Ministry Nisar Ali Khan said that government will launch operation tomorrow to clear the pro-Qadri protestors if they did not end their sit in.
Khan said that talks were being held with the protestors at this moment.
“I have passed ordered to clear them forcibly tomorrow,” he said.
“We will wait for one another hour for talks to succeed. But the operation will be launched tomorrow and not during the night so that everyone could see it.”
He said government had earlier given two-hour notice to the supporters of Qadri to end their three-day sit-in.
Khan said they were given more time at last minute for talks.
Khan said more than 7,000 security personnel from police, Rangers and Frontier Corps were ready to launch operation. He said the protestors were using aged people as human shield.
Meanwhile, a protest leader claimed that more than 1,100 people were arrested by the police. But a senior police official said that about 750 protesters have been arrested since yesterday.
“Those arrested have been sent to various jails of Punjab. Others are being kept at police stations in Islamabad,” he said.
Meanwhile, the district administration gave a two-hour notice to the protesters gathered at D-Chowk to end their sit-in or else the security forces will carry out operation to end their unlawful gathering, DawnNews reported.
Several hundred police personnel and paramilitary forces were deployed around the area after the ultimatum was issued.
The protesters led by Sunni Tehreek and Tehreek-i-Labbaik Ya Rasool religious groups entered the so-called high-security Red Zone after bloody clashes with police in which 42 security officials and 16 citizens have been injured so far.
They are demanding implementation of Shariah in Pakistan and declaring Qadri, who was hanged on February 29, a “martyr”.