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Pakistan Vows To Clear Islamic Protesters In Islamabad


A man holds a picture of Mumtaz Qadri as he chants slogans with others during a sit in protest against Qadri's execution in front of the Parliament building in Islamabad on March 29.

Pakistan is warning that it will move on March 30 to clear a protest by thousands of Muslims against the execution of a policeman for killing a governor who opposed the country's blasphemy laws.

The rally brought as many as 25,000 protesters into the streets of Islamabad on March 27, where they clashed with police. By March 29, police estimated that only 700 remained, but they still were able to bring parts of the capital to a standstill by camping out on a main avenue.

The protesters are demanding compliance with Shari'a law after the hanging of Mumtaz Qadri, who killed Governor Salman Taseer in 2011 because he sought to reform the country's blasphemy laws.

The protesters are also demanding the hanging of a Christian woman Taseer had defended against blasphemy allegations.

The government gave the demonstrators a deadline to leave, but it went unheeded. That prompted the government to say security forces would begin clearing the area on March 30.

"If the protesters do not disperse peacefully tonight, then we will evict them in the morning in front of everyone," Interior Minister Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan said.

Based on reporting by AP and AFP
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