ISLAMBABAD – A government deadline set for an Islamic group to disband its dayslong rally in Pakistan's capital has expired, but authorities extended it for 24 hours to avoid a crackdown.
The deadline was set for Saturday morning after a court asked the rally organizers — the Tehreek-i-Labaik Ya Rasool Allah party — to end the protest that has disrupted life in Islamabad.
Before dawn, police surrounded Islamabad's Faizabad crossing, where demonstrators have camped out.
The protesters want the removal of law minister Zahid Hamid over a recently omitted reference to the Prophet Muhammad in a bill.
Hamid has apologized, saying it was a clerical mistake that stands corrected.
Rally organizers say they will not end protest until Hamid is fired and the rally is viewed as a challenge to the government.