In a replay of 1977 anti-government demonstration against the government of Prime Minister Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto, the government of Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan is facing violent protests by religious parties to destabilize the newly elected government.
In 1977, the so-called Pakistan National Alliance, comprising three main religious parties - Jamaat-e-Islami (JI), Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam (JUI), Jamiat Ulema-e-Pakistan (JUP), some other political parties and fringe groups -- launched a violent campaign with a single point agenda to remove the elected government of Prime Minister Bhutto accusing him of rigging the March 1977 elections in which religious parties performed poor. Their election agenda was to establish Islamic rule in the country. The PNA was successful in its mission as the Army Chief General Ziaul Haq deposed Bhutto and imposed martial law.
Fast forward to 2018, Muttahida Majlis-e-Amal (MMA) an alliance of five religio-political parties that include Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam (JUI-F), Jamaat-e-Islami (JI), Markazi Jamiat Ahle Hadith (JA), Tehreek-e-Jafaria Pakistan (TJP) and Jamiat Ulema-e-Pakistan (JUP), plans to hold a 'million march' in Karachi on Thursday (Nov 8) against the Supreme Court's recent acquittal of Asia Bibi -- a Christian woman who was previously sentenced to death on blasphemy charges by lower courts.
Ironically, three of the five MMA parties include three religious parties which were members of the 1977 anti-Bhutto alliance.
Pakistan witnessed violent demonstrations for three days as the Supreme Court announced the verdict on Wednesday Oct 31. The demonstrations were called by a new religious party, Tehreek-e-Labbaik Pakistan (TLP)
Shortly after the Supreme Court's landmark ruling was pronounced, Tehreek-e-Labbaik Pakistan (TLP) leaders Khadim Rizvi, led a major protest outside government buildings in the eastern city of Lahore, with fellow TLP leaders declaring the three judges who acquitted Bibi to be "liable to be killed".
The sit-in protest in Lahore remained the largest TLP demonstration on Thursday, with other major demonstrations being held in the southern city of Karachi, Pakistan's largest. Protesters are also blockading a major highway into the capital, Islamabad.
Most schools and many businesses remained closed in all three cities through the day, with hospitals on high alert in case the protests turned violent. Highways were partially shut down and the federal cabinet held an emergency meeting to discuss the law and order situation.
On November 2, Tehreek-e-Labbaik Pakistan agreed with the government to end the violent demonstrations which had paralyzed the country and caused extensive material and economic damage.
According to agreement, a review appeal has been filed in the case of Asia Bibi which is the legal right of complainants and government will have no objection on it.
It was also agreed to initiate legal proceedings to prevent her from traveling abroad. She has been offered asylum by several countries.
The agreement adds that people who have been arrested against the acquittal of Asia Masih from October 30th onwards will be immediately released.
Tehreek-e-Labbaik says judges who acquitted Christian woman 'deserve death'
Tehreek-e-Labbaik has called for the death of the country's Supreme Court judges responsible for overturning the death sentence of a Christian woman accused of blasphemy.
"The patron in chief of TLP, Muhammad Afzal Qadri, has issued the edict that says the chief justice and all those who ordered the release of Asia deserve death," party spokesman Ejaz Ashraf said, as cited by the news agency.
The party also demanded Prime Minister Imran Khan's government be ousted following the court's order.