Pakistan: TLP reaches agreement with govt to end countrywide protests, sit-ins

Pakistan: TLP reaches agreement with govt to end countrywide protests, sit-ins

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ISLAMABAD: Tehreek-e-Labbaik Pakistan (TLP) has reached an agreement with the federal and Punjab governments to call off protests and dharna against the acquittal of blasphemy accused Aasia Bibi by the Supreme Court.

The country was at a standstill on Friday as protests continued for a third day. Several parts of the country witnessed severe disruption as enraged protesters blocked roads and forced markets to shut down.

Protesters resorted to arson and vandalism in many parts of the country and damaged private and public property in various incidents.

All private and public educational institutions remained closed across major cities. Attendance at offices and other commercial enterprises also remained thin.

The All-Pakistan Private Schools Federation (APPSF) has announced the closure of all private schools across the country on Saturday.

Cellular services were suspended in four major cities. Information Minister Fawad Chaudhry had tweeted that “mobile services of Lahore, Rawalpindi, Islamabad and Gujranwala will be blocked from 8am till maghrib”.

Cell phone services in Lahore, Islamabad and other cities were restored at 6pm.

Hospitals also suffered from staff shortages. Many areas of Karachi remained without water as protesters stopped water tankers from reaching their destinations.

On Wednesday, the top court acquitted Aasia Bibi – a Christian woman accused of blasphemy in 2010 and sentenced to death – and set aside an earlier judgment passed by a lower court.

The 51-year-old Christian woman was on the death row since November 2010 after she was convicted on charges of committing blasphemy during an argument with two Muslim women in Sheikhupura.

Her case gained prominence after then Punjab governor Salmaan Taseer pleaded for a retrial of her case and was subsequently shot dead by one of his guards, Mumtaz Qadri, in January 2011.

Bibi challenged the verdict in October 2014, however, the LHC upheld the death sentence. The apex court had stayed the execution in July

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