LAHORE: The Tehreek-e-Labbaik Pakistan (TLP) protests against the acquittal of Christian blasphemy convict Aasiya Bibi continued for the third day on Friday as they called for a shutter-down strike, amid efforts by the government to defuse the situation.
Roads were empty and certain routes were blocked in major cities. Although most of the routes that were closed a day earlier in Karachi, Lahore and Islamabad have now been opened been for traffic, some are still blocked.
Protests began shortly after the Supreme Court’s acquitted a Christian blasphemy convict Aasiya Bibi.
State Interior Minister Shehryar Afridi on Thursday said that the government is in consultation with the opposition for bringing the country-wide protests to an end. Afridi said they will get the routes blocked by protesters reopened “through wisdom”, for which all institutions were in coordination with each other.
As the protests continue, roads in major cities have been blocked and commuters are advised to avoid the following routes:
In Karachi, roads have been blocked in at least 25 places, which include: Teen Talwar, Nazimabad, Liaquatabad, Star Gate at Shahra-e-Faisal, Numaish, Sohrab Goth, Korangi 5, Ranchor Line, Power House Chowrangi, Nagan Chowrangi, Qayyumabad, Murtaza and Bilal Chowrangis, New Karachi, Sanjrani Town, Landhi 89 and Teen Hatti have been blocked.
The road to Jinnah International Airport from Star Gate has been blocked and commuters are advised to use the University Road.
Roads have been blocked at Charring Cross at Mall Road, Data Darbar, Shahdara Chowk, Askari X, Kalma Chowk and Bhatta Chowk.
Roads leading to Muridke, Nathe Khalsa, Paka Meel and Mohlanwal have also been blocked.
The Rawalpindi-Islamabad Faizabad Interchange is blocked. Roads are blocked at Dhoke Kala Khan and Tramri and Karal Chowks.
A motorways spokesperson said that routes to Lahore and Kamoke to Rawalpindi are open for traffic. However, the motorway from Kamoke to Lahore is blocked.
Further, roads leading to Taxila, Pir Sohawa, Sarai Alamgir and Gujrat are blocked.
In Peshawar, the Ring Road and GT Road have been blocked. Roads leading to the motorway have also been blocked.
On Wednesday, following the protests, Section 144 was imposed across Punjab, Sindh and Balochistan barring the gathering of more than four persons in public places as well as pillion riding. Section 144 has been imposed till November 10.
Moreover, hospitals were put on high alert to deal with any untoward situation arising out of the protests.
Due to ongoing protests and blockades on routes, a majority of educational institutions across the country would remain closed on Friday.
Private schools in Karachi would remain closed on Friday, said a statement by the All Sindh Private Schools Association.
According to IBA spokesman, the exams for job portal under the university have been postponed.
Masters and PhD examinations in the NED University have also been postponed, said the registrar.
In an official notification by Punjab government, all public and privately managed universities and colleges in Punjab will remain closed on November 2, 2018.
All private schools in Southern Punjab will remain closed, said Private Schools Association South Punjab.
The supplementary exams under Punjab Secondary Education Board for Intermediate on November 2 and November 3 have been postponed too, said the Punjab government spokesman, adding that new dates will be announced later.
Private Schools Management Association Khyber Pakhtunkhwa have also announced to close all schools on Friday.