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Pakistani Islamists To End Protests After Deal With Government

Hardline supporters of Islamist political party Tehreek-e-Labaik Pakistan violently protest in Karachi on November 2.

A Pakistani Islamist party says it will call off protests over the acquittal of a Christian woman in a blasphemy case, after the party reached a deal with the government on November 2.

Under the agreement, the government agreed to bar Asia Bibi, who has been on death row since 2010, from leaving the country.

"The party leaders have announced an end to protest sit-ins across the country. Workers have been asked to disperse peacefully," said Pir Ijaz Qadri, spokesman for the Tehreek-e-Labaik Pakistan party, which has largely led three days of protests in major Pakistani cities. The government confirmed the agreement.

Bibi, a mother of five, was accused of making derogatory remarks about Islam after neighbors objected to her drinking water from their glass because she was not Muslim.

On October 31, a three-judge panel set up to hear the appeal ruled the evidence was insufficient.

Since the landmark ruling over Bibi’s acquittal, thousands of Islamists have rallied in Islamabad and other cities, demanding that the acquittal verdict be overturned.

Demonstrators blocked highways and damaged or set fire to dozens of vehicles.

Bibi's whereabouts were not known on November 2, with speculation rife that she would be secretly sent out of the country by the authorities.

The charge of blasphemy carries the death penalty in Pakistan and critics say it is often misused to settle feuds and arguments.

Based on reporting by AFP, AP, Reuters