ISLAMABAD: An abortive crackdown by security forces to clear the capital’s main artery of hundreds of activist of a religious group sparked countrywide protests, led to closure of TV channels and blockade of social networking sites.
Taking strong exception to the government’s handling of the situation, Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf leader Jehangir Tareen called on Interior Minister Ahsan Iqbal to step down over the aftermath of the crackdown against the Islamabad protesters.
He said the government’s failed approach to disperse the protesters from Faizabad Interchange triggered unrest across the country.
The PTI leader said current law and order situation has exposed incompetence of the interior minister, who he said merely made tall claims rather than finding a peaceful solution to the sit-in.
Tareen said the government resorted to undemocratic tactics to cover up the situation created as a result of its handling of the crisis. He demanded restoration of news channels.
The government’s decision to take news channels off air to quell unrest invited scathing criticism from opposition parties, journalist bodies and members of civil society.
Pakistan Electronic Media Regulatory Authority (PEMRA) on Saturday blocked transmission of the news channels for alleged violation of the code of conduct for the coverage of the Faizabad sit-in.
The government called out the army for indefinite period to maintain peace in Islamabad in the aftermath of clashes between security forces and the Faizabad protesters.