Pakistani authorities have arrested nearly 200 people on charges of involvement in violent protests against an anti-Islam film even as businesses on Saturday counted the cost of a countrywide shutdown and widespread destruction during the demonstrations.
Fresh protests were also held today in Islamabad and Lahore. Islamabad Police chief Bin Yamin Khan said 62 people were arrested in connection with Friday's protests, when thousands of people attempted to march towards the diplomatic enclave.
He said about 60,000 had participated in the protests. In the eastern city of Lahore, an anti-terrorism court remanded 36 people to police custody for a fortnight after they were arrested during the protests.
Another anti-terrorism court in Karachi, which witnessed more violence than other cities, remanded some 100 people to police custody. They were arrested on charges of violence, arson and damaging public and private property.
As life limped back to normal in cities and towns that were rocked by violence, unnamed economic analysts were quoted by The Express Tribune as saying that the shutdown due to the holiday declared by the government yesterday could have cost Pakistan an estimated Rs 76 billion.
The Karachi Chamber of Commerce and Industry estimated that the shutdown of industrial zones in Pakistan's financial hub alone cost the economy almost Rs14 billion.
Leading industrialists said they shut their businesses to show solidarity with the protesters but expressed frustration at the fact that the demonstrations had turned violent. The protests resulted in 23 deaths, including 17 in Karachi, and the destruction of public and private property worth billions of rupees.
Rampaging mobs torched or vandalised five cinema halls in Karachi, three cinema halls and the chamber of commerce in Peshawar and countless banks and shops, and looted goods and cash from commercial establishments and ATMs.
Infrastructure, including traffic lights and road signs, were destroyed in many cities and civic utilities facing a severe financial crunch began repairs today, officials said. In Islamabad, looters and robbers joined protestors and looted cash from a toll plaza, stole cars and robbed homes, police chief Bin Yamin Khan told reporters.
Hundreds of people, including women, joined another rally organised on Saturday by the Minhaj-ul-Quran. The protestors travelled in cars and buses from Rawalpindi to Islamabad and dispersed peacefully after holding a meeting near parliament.
Some 500 members of the Jamaat-ud-Dawah joined a protest outside the United States consulate in Lahore and shouted slogans against the US and in support of jihad.