Mutahida Majlis-i-Amal (MMA), an alliance of five far-right and Islamist parties, will hold a “million-man” march in Lahore (Punjab) on Thursday, November 15. The march is set to begin at Nasir Bagh and proceed along Mall Road, ending at Faisal Chowk outside the Punjab Assembly. The demonstration is expected to be well attended, as was a related march organized in Karachi (Sindh), on November 8, which reportedly attracted thousands. The MMA is organizing the protest following the recent acquittal of Asia Bibi, the Christian woman who had previously been sentenced to death on blasphemy charges. An increased security presence and transportation disruptions should be anticipated, along with possible clashes with security forces and vandalism.
On a related note, the Dutch government ordered the repatriation of an unspecified number of staff members working at the embassy in Islamabad after threats were received from hardliner Islamist groups. The Netherlands has been targeted because they are providing shelter to Bibi’s lawyer.
Mass demonstrations broke out on October 31 after the Supreme Court acquitted Bibi, resulting in clashes with security forces, roadblocks, and rail and flight disruptions across the country. Tehreek-e-Labbaik Pakistan (TLP) leaders, who were instrumental in provoking the unrest, agreed to end mass protests on November 3, after an agreement was reached with the government.
Individuals in Pakistan are advised to closely monitor developments, avoid all demonstrations due to the risk of violence, and refrain from discussing sensitive religious and political topics in public.
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