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  HOME | World (Click here for more)

Pakistani Law Minister Resigns to End Anti-Blasphemy Protests

ISLAMABAD Ė Pakistanís law minister has resigned to pacify anti-blasphemy protests that have rocked the country for 20 days and left six dead and hundreds injured, state-owned Radio Pakistan reported Monday.

Zahid Hamid resigned late Sunday night, following which the government struck a deal with the protesters to end the blockade, according to the report.

The agreement between the government and cleric Khadim Hussain Rizvi, chief of the Tehreek-e-Labbaik party who has been spearheading the protests, includes the release of hundreds of protesters who were arrested Saturday during a failed police crackdown on the protest, according to local media reports.

Zubair Ahmed, spokesperson for Rizviís party, confirmed to EFE that they reached an agreement with Islamabad following Hamidís resignation and will call off the protest once the government frees the arrested protesters.

The protests had erupted after the Pakistani Parliament had approved an amendment to an electoral law on Oct. 2 that removed an oath public servants had to take before assuming office, reiterating their belief in Mohammed as the last prophet of Islam.

The hardliners, however, insisted the amendment was a blasphemy Ė a serious crime in the country that can be punished by the death penalty Ė and have demanded Hamidís resignation ever since.

The Tehreek-e-Labaik was formed 18 months ago after the execution of Mumtaz Qadri, convicted for killing Salman Taseer, the ex-governor of the Punjab province, who had demanded a change in the countryís anti-blasphemy law.

 

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