Pakistan’s capital was bracing on Sunday for a possible military response to anti-blasphemy protests by Islamists that have already claimed at least half a dozen lives. Police and paramilitary forces pulled back from an operation to break up a huge sit-in that had paralysed Islamabad for weeks after their clearance operation on Saturday turned deadly.
Security forces fired tear gas and rubber bullets at the demonstrators but were met by stubborn resistance by protesters who blocked roads and torched vehicles around the site of the sit-in. An interior ministry order said the federal government had authorised the deployment of “sufficient troops” to “control law and order” in the capital until further notice. By daylight on Sunday there was no official military response and no sign of armoured vehicles or soldiers on the streets.