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Pakistan’s law minister resigns, Islamists disband protest

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ISLAMABAD — Pakistan’s law minister Zahid Hamid resigned Monday as the embattled civilian government bowed to demands from a small Islamist group whose anti-blasphemy protest in the capital has fueled deadly violence and sparked demonstrations across the country.

After minister Hamid’s resignation, Pakistani Islamists announced, they were disbanding their sit-in near Islamabad caving in to the protesters who have been demanding his ouster in a three-week-long rally.

There was no immediate confirmation from the government of the resignation and no comment from the military too.

The Tehreek-i-Labaik Ya Rasool Allah party, which is behind the protest in Islamabad and other cities and towns across Pakistan, said they were dispersing peacefully.

Leader Khadim Hussain Rizvi called off the sit-in after state media reported minister Hamid’s resignation early Monday. Rizvi said he had military assurances that the demands of his Tehreek-i-Labaik Ya Rasool Allah Pakistan (TLY) group would be met.

“On the assurance of the Chief of Army Staff, we are calling off the sit-in,” he told a crowd of around 2,500 demonstrators, adding that his group was abandoning plans to issue a fatwa against Hamid and was calling for roads and schools to be reopened.

The decision to capitulate to the protesters’ demands underscored how a small Islamist party was able to pressure the Pakistani government and force it to accept its demands through a protracted standoff that started earlier in November.

Islamist protestors had demanded minister Hamid’s resignation over an omitted reference to Islam’s Prophet Muhammad in a parliamentary bill.

He apologized for the omission in the bill, saying it was a clerical error that was later corrected.

The previously obscure group has been calling for weeks for Hamid’s ousting over a hastily-abandoned amendment to the oath which election candidates must swear. It has occupied a main highway into Islamabad since November 6 and virtually paralyzed the capital.

With Agency Inputs

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Three arrested with tiger hides

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KATHMANDU- The Central Investigation Bureau (CIB) on Tuesday arrested three persons in possession of tiger hides.

The CIB said that Man Bahadur Tamang of Shailung Rural Municipality in Dolakha; Lokmaya Gurung of Barpak Sulikot Rural Municipality in Gorkha district and Amar Singh of Tilathi Koiladi Rural Municipality in Saptari district were arrested from Budhanilkantha in the capital city acting on a tip off about their involvement in smuggling of animals’ hides and skeleton.

All three have been sent to the Division Forests Office, Kathmandu for further actions. According to the Superintendent of Police Sudip Giri, the alleged would be booked as per the National Parks and Wildlife Conservation Act, 1973 and CITES Convention, 1975.

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