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Pakistan shuts down social media platforms from 11 AM to 3 PM due to expected protests by radical Islamists after Friday prayers

Tehreek-i-Labbaik Pakistan (TLP) supporters and members have been violently protesting since the arrest of their chief, Saad Hussain Rizvi

The Imran Khan-led Pakistan government has taken the decision to shut down social media websites and messaging applications like WhatsApp, Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter throughout Pakistan from 11 AM to 3 PM, according to Pakistani media sources.

This decision has been reportedly taken in order to combat the deteriorating law and order situation in Pakistan. The social media ban comes amid reports that Tehreek-i-Labbaik Pakistan is planing a massive round of protests following the Friday prayers today.

On Wednesday, the Pakistani government announced its ban of Tehreek-i-Labbaik Pakistan (TLP), whose supporters and members have been violently protesting since the arrest of their chief, Saad Hussain Rizvi, on Monday.

PEMRA, Pakistan’s media regulatory authority, has blocked all TV channels in Pakistan from providing any coverage of this now-banned Islamist organization.

Pakistan has been gripped in violence the past few days because TLP leader Saad Hussain Rizvi urged his followers through a video message on Sunday to protest and hit the roads against the government if the TLP’s demands are not fulfilled. This call for a countrywide protest led to his arrest at around 2 pm on Wahdat Road in Lahore. TLP has been demanding that Pakistan should expel the French ambassador to the country, in protest against France govt supporting the right of people to publish drawings and cartoons of Muhammad, and the strong action against Islamic radicalism in the country.

Following Rizvi’s arrest, a large mob of his supporters blocked the Grand Trunk Road at several junctions. Major cities such as Islamabad, Lahore, Gujranwala, and Peshawar were cut off from the rest of the country. The Islamists had also blocked motorways, highways, train tracks and clashed with the police, resulting in two deaths.

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