Islamists call off protest in Pakistan after law minister resigns

Islamabad: A group of Islamist protesters here who had been blocking a key intersection connecting Islamabad and Rawalpindi for over a fortnight called off their agitation on Monday after a law minister they accused of blasphemy finally stepped down.

Protesters in other cities too started to leave after minister Zahid Hamid quit and the federal government accepted several of their demands.

Khadim Hussain Rizvi, leader of Tehreek Labaik Ya Rasool Allah, urged people who had camped out at Faizabad intersection to leave the venue within 12 hours. He also called for opening of businesses and shops.

At least six people are believed to have been killed when clashes erupted on Saturday between protesters and security forces who moved in to clear the site.

The protesters wanted Hamid to quit for his failure to mention Prophet Muhammad in a parliamentary bill. Hamid apologised and corrected the error but protesters refused to leave the intersection until he resigned.

Among those killed in the clashes was a young protester who was shot in the head. Most of the injured were policemen. The intersection incident triggered protest marches across the country. As the situation was going out of control, the government ordered TV channels to go off the air.  Social media sites were blocked.