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Don’t clash with state, Pakistan’s PM Khan warns protesters

ISLAMABAD: Pakistan’s Prime Minister Imran Khan, in a televised address to the nation on Wednesday, warned protesters not take the law into their own hands. “I appeal to these elements ... do not clash with the state.”
He said the apex court verdict that Christian woman Asia Bibi, who was in jail on blasphemy charges but won her appeal against the death sentence, was according to the constitution.
The prime minister added that a small segment of society is inciting the masses for their own political purposes.
“Let me make it clear to you ... the state will fulfil its duty and protect people’s lives and properties,” he said. “I appeal to you ... do not take the state to a level where it has no option but to initiate action.”
Khan said that the language being used against the Supreme Court judges who announced the verdict and against Army Chief General Qammar Javed Bajwa was unbearable.
“Saying that the judges of the Supreme Court are ‘Wajib ul Qatl’ (liable to be killed) and that the army chief is a ‘non-Muslim,’ and calling for a revolt against the chief justice and army chief ... This is unacceptable,” the PM said.
The central leader of the far-right Tehreek-e-Labbaik Pakistan party (TLP), Afzal Qadri, issued a decree against the judges who released Asia.
Supporters of Khadim Hussain Rizvi, a hard-line cleric and chief of the TLP, are demonstrating against the verdict, holding sit-in protests in Karachi, Lahore, Multan and leading protest rallies in Islamabad and other cities. Clashes between the protesters and police have been reported.
The area known as Red Zone in Islamabad, where the Supreme Court, Parliament and other important building are located, has been sealed off to keep protesters away from the court.
Bibi was the first woman in the country who had been given the death sentence for blasphemy.
The three-member bench headed by Supreme Court Chief Justice Saqib Nisar reversed two lower-court verdicts against Bibi and said she would be set free if she is not wanted in relation to any other case.
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