Over a thousand supporters of Mumtaz Qadri, who was executed for killing liberal Punjab governor Salman Taseer, on Wednesday refused to obey a second call to end their days-old protest here until the government accepts their demand of declaring the Islamist assassin a "martyr".
Over 7,000 security personnel have been deployed in Islamabad's "red zone" and are readying to forcibly evict the protesters as they have ignored repeated warnings to end their stir peacefully, a senior government official said.
Over 25,000 supporters of Qadri, executed in late February five years after he assassinated Taseer, had entered and besieged Islamabad's red zone on Sunday, damaging public buildings and clashing with police in which 42 security officials and 16 citizens have been injured so far.
The four-day-old stand-off between the Islamist protesters and authorities comes in the backdrop of deadly terror attack on Easter Sunday in Lahore in which over 70 people, mostly Christians, were killed. Jamaatul Ahrar, a splinter faction of Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) has claimed responsiblity for the attack.
Earlier on Wednesday, police issued a second call to protesters to disperse peacefully before evening after a similar warning to "use force" by interior minister Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan last night went unheeded.
Over 1,100 protesters were arrested yesterday in a police operation after Khan's warning. However, 1,500-2,000 protesters are still camped in front of the parliament and have refused to end their protests until all of their demands are accepted.