Pakistan summons army after violent protests

TV footage showed police firing teargas shells and security personnel in riot gears charging at the protesters dozens of whom were arrested and shifted to various police stations.

Pakistan cracked down on radical Islamist protestors in Islamabad and Rawalpindi on Saturday, calling in the military to restore law and order after violence broke out following an attempt by security forces to disperse the demonstrators. But later violence has led to injuries to as many as 200 people according to hospitals in Islamabad and Rawalpindi.

In Islamabad, thousands of security officials were deployed to break up the protests.

The Dawn reported how the operation had to be suspended Saturday evening "when roughly 1,000 protesters unexpectedly entered Islamabad through the Express Highway to join the agitators".

Private television channels in Pakistan were taken off the air by the Pakistan Electronic Media Regulatory Authority, according to a message slate that replaced the channels' programming. The violent protests have spread to other cities including Karachi, Lahore, Rawalpindi and Peshawar.

Tehreek-e-Labaik blames the minister, Zahid Hamid, for changes to an electoral oath that it says amounts to blasphemy.

Meanwhile, protesters set on fire entrance gate of the house of former interior minister Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan.

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Mian Javed Latif, a lawmaker of ruling Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz, was thrashed by protesters in Sheikhupura area of Punjab and was being treated for injuries in the local hospital.

"If I were the prime minister then the operation would not have started and I myself should have gone there and talked to them, when Supreme Court was attacked I had done like this, said Shujaat".

He warned that the protesters had certain things and resources which might be used against the state.

The crackdown came after the country's top court ordered their removal, after protests paralyzed life in the twin cities and the last of a long series of deadlines lapsed without response from the agitating parties.

Interior Minister Ahsan Iqbal on Thursday said those demonstrating sit-in at Faizabad Interchange had political motives as they wanted to exploit the common men on the name of the Prophethood for the next general elections.

However, the court yesterday expressed strong displeasure at government for failing to take action against protesters.