Outlawed religious party suspends protests after deal with Pakistan govt

Supporters of banned Tehreek-e-Labbaik Pakistan (TLP) ended their protest march after the Pakistan government agreed to drop pending charges against the arrested TLP leader Saad Rizvi.

Tehreek-e-Labbaik Pakistan has a history of staging violent protests to pressure the government to accept its demands. (Reuters)

A banned religious party in Pakistan has agreed to suspend for three days its march of thousands toward the capital Islamabad.

The development came after Pakistan government on Sunday agreed to drop pending charges against the party’s leader.

Party supporters on Saturday departed the eastern city of Lahore, clashing for a second straight day with police who lobbed tear gas into the crowd.

The group began its journey a day earlier with the goal of reaching Islamabad to pressure the government to release Saad Rizvi, head of the Tehreek-e-Labbaik Pakistan (TLP) party.

Rizvi was arrested last year amid demonstrations against France over the publication of caricatures of Prophet Muhammad.

Raja Basharat, provincial law minister, said that under the agreement Punjab will withdraw charges against Rizvi and release all those detained during the protest march by Tuesday.

Rizvi had been detained pre-emptively on a charge of inciting people to assemble unlawfully.

It was unclear when he would be released.

Violent clashes erupted between security forces and the protesters in Lahore killing at least two police and injuring about a dozen, police said.

Saifi claimed four party supporters were killed by police fire and “many” others were injured. Police said the demonstrators torched several police vehicles there.

Pakistan Interior Minister Shaikh Rashid Ahmed said the government was unaware of any deaths of TLP supporters.

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