ISLAMABAD: Angry protesters who clashed with police over the weekend has called off its weeks-long protest after the government agreed to its demands and the law minister resigned on Monday.
Khadim Hussain Rizvi of TLY said that, the protesters will exit protest site within 12 hours, as soon as the government start implementing the agreement that both parties agreed on.
Seven people were killed and 200 wounded in the clashes after a police bid to disperse the protesters failed on Saturday, sparking instead demonstrations in other major cites nationwide.
“Our main demand has been accepted,” Ejaz Ashrafi, spokesman of the Tahreek-e-Labaik Ya Rasool Allah (P.B.U.H) group, told Reuters. “Government will announce the law minister’s resignation and we will end our sit-in today.”
Law minister Zahid Hamid has resigned, state-run news channel PTV said on Monday. Shipping containers that police had used to block off the main protest site were being removed, media said.
The government on Saturday called in Pakistan’s powerful military to tackle the protests after the police operation failed, but there was no sign of troops around the protest camps on Sunday.
For the past two weeks, activists of TLY blocked the main road into the capital, Islamabad, in a protest that blamed the law minister, Zahid Hamid, for changing the wording in an electoral oath.
The party says the words “I believe”, used to replace the clause “I solemnly swear” in a proclamation of Mohammad (P.B.U.H) as the religion’s last prophet amount to blasphemy.
The government blamed the change on a clerical error and swiftly restored the original format.
Labaik, led by cleric Khadim Hussain Rizvi, Labaik is one of two new ultra-religious political movements to reach prominence in recent months. Labaik, which campaigns to maintain Pakistan’s strict blasphemy laws, won a surprisingly strong 6 percent, and 7.6 percent, share of votes in two recent by-elections.
Religious parties are unlikely to win a majority in the elections expected next August, but could play a major role.
“These protests will have emboldened this group, and they are going to assert themselves and put up candidates wherever they can in the next general election, or at least they will oppose the PML-N,” he added.
The opposition Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) party accused the government of bungling the efforts to remove the protesters and called for early elections.