Govt calls Army to protect Diplomatic Enclave
At least 11 people were injured as police fired live rounds and tear gas to break up a large crowd of over 1,000 students, many armed with clubs.
The enraged students clashed with law enforcement agencies, pelting them with stones. Several protestors were eventually able to sneak into the high security Red Zone.
Islamabad’s heavily-guarded diplomatic enclave is home to most Western embassies, including the US, British and French missions.
The crudely made video “Innocence of Muslims” has triggered protests in at least 20 countries since excerpts were posted online, and more than 30 people have been killed in violence linked to the film.
There have been dozens of protests around Pakistan over the past week and at least two people have been killed, but Thursday is the first time protests in the capital have turned violent.
Police fired tear gas and live rounds as the protesters tried to break through a barrier of truck containers set up to block access to the diplomatic enclave.
“I was ordered by my boss to disperse the crowd and that is why I had to open live fire but the aim was nearby trees and not the demonstrators,” Zaman Khan, a police officer deployed at the picket said. The firing forced the protesters to scatter, but they returned later to pelt the police picket with stones.
A complete shutter down and traffic jam strike would be observed today (Friday) across Pakistan as government announced public holiday to observe ‘Love the Prophet Day’ against the blasphemous film created in US and spark violent protests in Muslim world. CNG, Petrol pump, trade centres, markets, bazaars all public and private corporate sector will remain closed while transport companies, local and national route bus and van services will be off the roads.
Various political and religious parties have announced to organize public rallies to protest against the anti-Islam movie at various places of the country.
US diplomatic missions in Pakistan would be closed for public dealing on Friday. Security arrangements were tightened around American consulates and embassies in the country to avoid any mishap.
US embassy in Islamabad confirmed the closure of its diplomatic missions in Pakistan on Friday.
Meanwhile‚ at least nine policemen, including a Station House Officer were injured during their efforts to cope with the situation. The protesters set ablaze check-posts of police and Rangers.
Federal Minister for Information Qamar Zaman Kaira blamed the Punjab Government for allowing violent protesters to travel to the Federal Capital in crowded buses.
The information minister said the protestors came from Rawalpindi and Murree and it was the responsibility of the Punjab Police to stop them. He said the federal government had informed the Punjab government to take necessary steps in this regard.
Qamar Zaman Kaira said Pakistan is the only Muslim country in the world which has decided to observe “Ishq-e-Rasool Day” against the blasphemous movie.
He asserted that “all the foreigners and diplomats are in our protection and we will protect them at any cost”.
The nation will observe “Ishq-e-Rasool (SAW) Day” on Friday to express its anger over anti-Islam and blasphemous film produced by an American producer.
Rallies will be taken out in all major cities including Karachi, Lahore, Peshawar and Quetta.
It will be a public holiday on Friday to provide opportunity to the people to participate in peaceful demonstrations.
Ishq-e-Rasool (SAW) Conferences would be held at federal and provincial levels.
The Prime Minister will inaugurate the conference at the Convention Centre in Islamabad. He has invited leaders of all political parties to participate in the conference.
The Prime Minister has appealed to the people to hold peaceful demonstrations and offer special prayers for the unity and strength of the Ummah.
Petrol and CNG services, transport and businesses would remain closed today as a protest against blasphemous film.
All major highways and roads in the central parts of the metropolis witnessed worst traffic jams, as roads leading to sensitive buildings were blocked by the local authorities by placing containers.
The roads were blocked ahead of Yaum-e-Ishq-e-Rasool (PBUH) being observed on Friday in response to the blasphemous movie made in the US. Public rallies are expected in several parts of the city on the day, particularly, in and around the red zone.
Commuters faced severe hardship as they travelled through roads and highways where gridlocks brought the vehicular traffic to a standstill.
Many patients could not reach hospitals in time as a number of ambulances were also trapped in the gridlocks.
I.I. Chundrigar Road, Zaib-un-Nisa Street and roads in and around the Governor House Chief Minister House were most affected. Punjab Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif said “we should register our protest against the blasphemous film in a vigorous manner, while the Muslim world should raise its voice against it with full force”.
Mobile phones suspended today
Karachi—Mobile phone services will remain suspended in parts of the country today (Friday) as a security measure to avoid any untoward incident during the countrywide protests called by the government against the release of anti-Islam film.
According to sources, the government has decided to suspend mobile phone services in Karachi, Lahore and other cities from 9:00am to 11:00pm.
The government had blocked the service during the Eid-ul-Fitr to avoid any untoward incident.
On Wednesday, the government announced a public holiday to observe Yaum-e-Ishq-e-Rasool (Day of Prophet Mohammad’s [Peace Be Upon Him] love) across the country today (Friday).—INP