ISLAMABAD   -  The federal government throughout the country has put security on high alert for today fearing more protests could erupt after Friday prayers.

Protests erupted throughout the country mostly led by activists of Tehreek-e-Labbaik Pakistan (TLP) on Wednesday after the Supreme Court acquitted Aasia Bibi in a blasphemy case and overturned her death sentence awarded by a trial court and later endorsed by the high court. The protests resulted in blockade of different main roads including the national motorway. The protesters set on fire and damaged the public and private properties in different cities.

The federal government in coordination with the provinces has put the security on high alert for Friday and all law enforcement agencies including police and paramilitary forces have been directed to be ready to face any untoward situation.

Besides TLP, a number of religious groups and religio-political parties including Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam (JUI-F) and Jamaat-e-Islami (JI) have announced countrywide protests on Friday against the apex court’s decision demanding that the decision should be reversed.

A senior federal official said the government was negotiating with the TLP leadership to call off protests at least before Friday prayers as intelligence agencies had reported that more protests could erupt after the prayers. “We want to normalise the situation before Friday prayers,” he said. He further added that Ministry of Interior was monitoring minute by minute situation. National Counter-Terrorism Authority (NACTA) is coordinating with all the federal and provincial intelligence agencies to gather intelligence about the proposed protest plans, he added.

A news went viral on social media that the government had decided to place Aasia Bibi on its no fly list — a demand TLP is making to the government. It is being believed that Aasia Bibi will fly abroad as her life is under threat by different radical groups. However, PTI government through party’s official Twitter handle clarified the situation and said that it had no plan to put Aasia Bibi’s name on the exit control list (ECL) or file a review petition against the apex court verdict.

“Federal government has no plan to put Aasia Bibi’s name on ECL or appeal for a review against court verdict. A review petition has been filed by the concerned party which has nothing to do with the government.”

Human Rights Minister Dr Shireen Mazari also clarified the position of the federal government and Tweeted: “Some correction to clear media confusion: A protester has filed a review petition in SC & in that demanded Aasia BB’s name be put on ECL - Govt has nothing to do with both these moves. Review petition and its prayers are between SC and petitioner. PM’s position has been clear.”

Information Minister Fawad Chaudhry in an official statement said that an individual has exercised its legal right by filing a review petition and the court has accepted it. He further said that protests and use of violence instead of adopting a legal course was “unacceptable”. “No one can take law into hands and govt shall ensure writ of the state as expressed by the prime minister,” he said in categorical terms.


Countrywide high alert sounded