The government on Saturday called on the military to help police break up a sit-in by religious hardliners who have blocked the main routes into Islamabad for more than two weeks, state television reported.

“Army called in to control law and situation in capital,” official Pakistan TV reported, citing an Interior Ministry notification.

Activists of Tehreek-e-Labaik had earlier stormed the residence of Law Minister Zahid Hamid in Sialkot, reported local media, as security forces struggled to end the 20-day protests at Faizabad.

A crackdown against religious protesters camped out at Islamabad's Faizabad Interchange was 'suspended' on Saturday evening as thousands of protesters took over the streets in the federal capital.

The clashes began when police launched an operation involving some 4,000 officers to disperse around 1,000 activists from Tehreek, a new hard-line Islamist political party, and break up their camp.

At least 140 people, including police and FC personnel, have been injured in the ongoing clash between law enforcing agencies and the protesters.

Earlier in the day, a man was reported dead in a firing incident outside the residence of former interior minister Chaudhry Nisar. The protesters also attacked PML-N lawmaker Javed Latif in Sheikhupura.

Television footage showed a police vehicle and a DSNG of a news channel on fire, heavy curtains of smoke and fires burning in the streets as officers in heavy riot gear advanced. Protesters, some wearing gas masks, fought back in scattered battles across empty highways and surrounding neighbourhoods.

By midday, TV coverage had been cut off and private channels were off the air by orders of the official media regulator.

The protesters have paralysed daily life in Islamabad, and have defied court orders to disband, demanding the firing of the minister of law.

Tehreek-e-Labaik blames the minister, Zahid Hamid , for changes to an electoral oath that it says amounts to blasphemy. The government puts the issue down to a clerical error.

The security forces could not arrest the sit-in leadership including Khadim Hussain Rizvi till now. The protesters have surrounded leadership and stopping police and Rangers.

There are prison vans, ambulances at the site. Helicopters and drones are being used by the authorities for aerial surveillance. Police have also used water cannons to disperse the protesters. 

Due to operation in Islamabad people in Lahore are coming out on the roads. Lahore's entry and exist points have been blocked by the protesters. Traffic jam has choked arteries near Data Darbar.  Along with Lahore, people in Karachi have started a protest at Numaesh Chaurangi.

Meanwhile, Pakistan Electronic Media Regulating Authority (PEMRA) has issued coverage notice for electronic media and all satellite TV channels. 

After banning news channels, the government has also shut down social media websites including FaceBook, YouTube and Twitter.

Chief of Army Staff General Qamar Bajwa in a telephonic conversation with Prime Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi has "suggested to handle the Islambad dharna peacefully", a statement issued by the military's media wing said.