Pakistan Suspends Internet Services in Lahore as Banned Group Intensifies Sit-in Protests
The Pakistan government banned Tehreek-i-Labbaik under anti-terrorism laws in April after the group clashed with police across the country, demanding the French ambassador be expelled because President Emmanuel Macron refused to outlaw caricatures of the Prophet Muhammad last year.
Taking preventive measures, Pakistan's Punjab Home Department ordered the Pakistan Telecommunication Authority (PTA) to suspend internet services in several parts of Lahore on Thursday.
The directive was issued in response to a protest organised by a banned outfit Tehreek-i-Labbaik Pakistan in Lahore.
Police reported that internet services are not available in Samanabad, Sheer Akot, Nawankot, Gulshan-e-Ravi, Sabzazar, and Iqbal Town of Lahore.
“The competent authority has granted approval for the internet to be blocked (Data services/Wifi/ Fixed line DSL) to maintain law and order,” the order from the ministry of interior reads.
Services will be restored only after a direction rescinding the above order is issued.
The government has also put Lahore Police on high alert after hundreds of members of the banned group participated in the sit-in, demanding the release of their chief Hafiz Saad Hussain Rizvi.
The Punjab government detained the 27-year-old Hafiz Saad Hussain Rizvi on 12 April for “maintenance of public order (MPO).”
In April this year, the far right Islamist group launched violent anti-France protests across the province of Punjab, during which around 600 police suffered severe injuries.
Since October last year, the group has held several protests after French President Emmanuel Macron defended the publication of caricatures of Prophet Muhammad and pledged to fight “Islamist separatism”.