Pakistan Protests Called off by Islamic Leader

Smoke rises from a blocked flyover as protesters from the Tehreek-i-Labaik Yah Rasool Allah Pakistan (TLYRAP) religious group clash with police in Islamabad on November 25, 2017. Pakistani forces fired rubber bullets and lobbed tear gas at protesters in Islamabad on November 25 as they moved to disperse an Islamist sit-in that has virtually paralysed the country's capital for weeks. The roughly 8,500 elite police and paramilitary troops in riot gear began clearing the 2,000 or so demonstrators soon after dawn, with nearby roads and markets closed. / AFP PHOTO / AAMIR QURESHI (Photo credit should read AAMIR QURESHI/AFP/Getty Images)

The Islamist leader whose team clashed violently with Pakistani Security and paralyzed Islamabad for months called off the sit-in protest Monday, November 27, after the law minister resigned, meeting its key requirement.

“Together with the assurance of the Chief of Army Staff, we’re calling off the sit-in,” Khadim Hussain Rizvi told a crowd of around 2,500 demonstrators in the Tehreek-i-Labaik Ya Rasool Allah Pakistan (TLY), who have occupied a most important highway into the capital since November 6.

His announcement came after the media reported that minister Zahid Hamid had resigned. There was no immediate comment or confirmation from police officers.

The formerly obscure Islamist group has been calling for months for Hamid’s ousting above a hastily-abandoned amendment to the oath which election candidates should swear.
This has been a highly contentious issue with Muslims in  Pakistan that has regularly fueled violence.

Monday’s announcement came following a botched operation on Saturday to distribute the demonstrators sparked violence in Islamabad that left at least seven people dead and hundreds injured. It fueled the spread of the protests to significant cities across the country including Karachi and Lahore.

The government ordered police and paramilitaries to stand down after From Monday morning there still had been no official reaction from the military. Rawalpindi caused the death of at least one kid whose ambulance couldn’t reach hospital in time, and infuriated the judiciary.

Hamid’s ousting is the newest in a series of heavy blows to the ruling party.

In July Nawaz Sharif was deposed as prime minister by the courts over Graft allegations, whilst finance minister Ishaq Dar — additionally accused of corruption — has taken indefinite medical leave.

“Politically, this is a major embarrassment for the PML-N,” analyst Hasan Askari told Agence France-Presse, warning that it might undermine their credibility and calling more defections.

He also warned it had strengthened the position of hardline Muslim to further weaken the PML-N. The party has previously benefited from the right-wing vote.