Police & Protesters Killed as Far-Right Islamists Protest in Pakistan

Two policemen and two demonstrators were killed in a recent surge of violence in Pakistan. Rana Arif, a police spokesman, said two police officers were killed and another injured when protesters started throwing stones on Friday, October 22, 2021. Several demonstrators were also wounded during the ensuing violence.

Members of the Islamist far-right group Tehreek-e-Labiak Pakistan (TLP) began a "long march" from the city of Lahore towards Pakistan's capital, Islamabad. TLP, a banned radical Islamist party, demands that the Pakistani government release their leader, Saad Rizvi.

Saad Hussain Rizvi is the son of TLP's founder Khadim Hussain Rizvi. In April 2021, Rizvi was arrested by the Pakistani government and was charged under Pakistan's Anti-Terrorism Act, 1997. Rizvi is scheduled to appear before a federal review board composed of Supreme court judges. However, his hearing has been postponed since the police cannot move Rizvi from his cell to the hearing's location due to security issues. His hearing was supposed to be through a video conference from the Lahore registry.

TLP's supporters began their long march from Lahore to Islamabad on Friday, October 22. Sajid Saifi, a TLP spokesman, claimed that their members spent Friday evening near a bridge in Ravi River; the protesters continued their journey the following day. Saifi contended that many of the TLP's supporters were "injured by tear gas canisters as they attempted to leave Lahore." "The use of force by authorities injured hundreds of people," he added.

To prevent the protesters from leaving Lahore, the Pakistani government has deployed police and paramilitary personnel. They also disabled mobile phone services and blocked roads leading from and to Lahore to contain the protesters. Shipping containers were also brought to fortify the police's roadblocks.

As of the writing of this article, Sheikh Rasheed Ahmed, Pakistan's interior minister, announced that the government had released 350 activists connected to the TLP. As the head of the government's negotiating team, Ahmed also announced that they will re-open the roads blocked in Muridke while talks with TLP's leadership continue.

In an interview with AlJazeera, Pir Ejaz Ashrafi, TLP's Central Information Secretary, said that a final talk is being scheduled in Islamabad.

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