As the violent protests against the arrest of Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) Chairman Imran Khan entered into the second day on Wednesday, the Punjab, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KP) and Islamabad administrations summoned army troops to help civilian authorities maintain peace.
The violence has claimed at least four lives in Peshawar with Sindh imposing Section 144 to contain the violent protests staged by the former ruling party workers and supporters.
Authorities also ordered schools closed across the country and continued restricting access to social media platforms such as Twitter and Facebook.
A spokesperson for Lady Reading Hospital (LHR) told Geo News that four bullet-riddled bodies were received by their emergency room doctors, while as many as 27 others were under treatment for traumatic injuries.
Police fought pitched battles with supporters of Khan´s Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) party in cities across the country for hours on Tuesday night.
Protesters blocked some routes leading to Islamabad around lunchtime Wednesday but there was a huge security presence across the capital, particularly outside the so-called police lines where the special court convened.
Shah Mehmood Qureshi, vice chairman of the PTI, urged supporters to keep protesting in a "lawful and peaceful manner", adding party lawyers would file appeals and petitions against Khan´s arrest.
The Ministry of Interior approved the Punjab government's request for assistance by sanctioning ten companies of troops, saying: "The army would be working alongside district administration to restore law, order and peace".
The order issued by the interior ministry stated: "Pursuant to the request made by the Home Department Government of Punjab ... the federal government in exercise of powers conferred under article 245 of the Constitution and Section 4 (3) (ii) of Anti-Terrorism Act 1997, (to discharge such functions as specified as specified in the said act), is pleased to authorise the deployment of Pakistan Army troops/assets for maintaining law and order situation across Punjab province in aid of civil power."
The order further stated that the exact number of troops/assets, date, and area of deployment would be worked out by the provincial government in consultation with the Military Operations Directorate, General Headquarters (MO Dte, GHQ).
"The date of the de-requisition of said deployment will be decided subsequently after mutual consultation among both stakeholders," the statement said.
On the other hand, the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa government has requested military assistance to control riots.
"I am directed to refer to the above-noted subject and to state that in view of prevailing law and order circumstances and for the safety of life and property of citizens as well as security of government installations, the government of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa is placing a request for requisition of Armed Forces in aid of civil power under Article 245 of the Constitution of Islamic Republic of Pakistan," a letter from the provincial government stated.
In a separate notification, the Punjab Police said the action was being taken against those attacking government property, police force, and law-enforcement agencies in the province.
“Miscreants involved in violent acts, vandalism, damage to public and private property throughout the province have been arrested,” a police spokesperson said, adding that they had “seriously injured” more than 130 police officers and law enforcement personnel during the violent activities.
The spokesperson then shared: “Police teams have arrested 945 lawbreakers and miscreants from across the province.”
The Punjab Police spokesperson said: “More than 25 vehicles of the police and government agencies were destroyed and burnt.”
Protesters had attacked more than 14 government buildings, looting and causing serious damage to government property, he shared.
Furthermore, Punjab Inspector General (IG) Dr Usman Anwar shared that strict legal action is being taken against those who challenge the writ of the state and the law.
He reaffirmed that those who injured citizens, police officers, and personnel and damaged property “will be brought to justice”.
During the violent protests in Peshawar, 30 people have been arrested so far, police confirmed, adding that cases had been registered against those arrested.
According to the police, the cases have been registered on charges of damaging public and private property, vehicles, metro buses, and government ambulances.
Charges of arson, stone pelting, vandalism, and attacks on the police have also been added to the registered cases.
Identification of rioters and arsonists from CCTV footage and other sources is underway, the police said.
Reacting to the news, PTI Vice Chairman Shah Mehmood Qureshi took to Twitter to slam the federal government and said it was strange to note that the army was available for deployment to fight protestors but it was too busy to perform election duty.
“We have serious concerns about threats to the life of Chairman Imran Khan. Our leader is in the custody of those who threaten him. Secondly, till yesterday, the army was very busy and was not available for the elections, but what has happened that the army has been deployed in Punjab and KP today? The nation is not stupid,” Qureshi tweeted.
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