Pakistan Deploys Army to Stop ‘Blasphemy’ Protesters

Pakistan’s government on Saturday ordered the army to break up a sit-in by Islamist hardliners that has caused chaos on Islamabad’s roads for the past two weeks. Nearly 200 people were injured earlier in the day when more than 8,000 police officers were sent in to try and disperse protesters blocking a major highway. Police used rubber bullets and tear gas against protesters but were unsuccessful in dislodging the crowds, who set police vehicles on fire and hurled stones. The demonstrators, many of whom are from the ultra-conservative Tehreek-e-Labaik party, are demanding the ouster of Law Minister Zahid Hamid, whom they accuse of blasphemy for omitting the Prophet Muhammad from a revised version of the electoral oath. Police and security forces retreated from the scene after ongoing clashes Saturday, with reports saying the number of demonstrators has spiked amid the violence and spread to multiple cities.