Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf chief Imran Khan demanded on Sunday that Prime Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi should resign immediately over his government’s failure to deal with the Faizabad protest and the consequent unrest in the country. “The PM and his ministers have pushed the country into a quagmire,” he told reporters in Islamabad. He added that Interior Minister Ahsan Iqbal and Law Minister Zahid Hamid should also resign.
Fresh violence erupts on Islamabad highway; car, five motorbikes set on fire. The PTI chief further called for early elections, saying that the government itself was responsible for the prevailing unrest by “fiddling” with a sensitive matter. On Saturday morning, the authorities finally launched an operation to retrieve Faizabad intersection from Tehreek-e-Labbaik protesters after weeks of negotiations and nudging by the courts, but the police action only multiplied the government’s problems amid a worsening law and order situation in Islamabad and other cities.
At the end of the day, at least six protesters had been confirmed dead, while more than 200 people – including protesters and law enforcers – were injured. All six fatalities took place in Rawalpindi and four of the deceased were identified as Zohaib, Jahanzeb, Irfan and Adeel. The other two were yet to be identified. The protesters torched over a dozen police vehicles and several motorcycles, as riot police beat a hasty retreat hours after they mounted the crackdown.
Officials said 40 personnel of Rawalpindi and 76 of Islamabad police, 64 Frontier Constabulary men and 50 civilians suffered injuries and were taken to hospitals. Eventually, the government called out the army to disperse protesters from Islamabad’s Faizabad Interchange. However, a statement issued by the General Headquarters said the army is ready to fully “perform the assigned task in line with its constitutional obligations a few aspects meriting prior to employment of army”.