Pakistani Rangers walk past burning motorbikes on a street in Karachi early November 24, after they were set alight by protesters following the arrest of hardline cleric Khadim Hussain Rizvi. Photo: AFP

Pakistani police on Friday detained a firebrand cleric whose party recently paralyzed the country with violent demonstrations against the acquittal of a Christian woman accused of blasphemy.

Khadim Hussain Rizvi, who is the leader of the Tehreek-e-Labaik Pakistan (TLP) party, was detained ahead of a scheduled demonstration on Saturday in the capital Islamabad, Information Minister Fawad Chaudhry tweeted.

“Khadim Hussain Rizvi has been taken into protective custody by police and shifted to a guest house,” Chaudhry tweeted, adding that the move was not linked to the case of Asia Bibi, a Christian woman who was on death row for eight years before the Supreme Court overturned her blasphemy conviction last month.

“It’s to safeguard public life, property and order and has to do nothing with [the] Asia Bibi case,” Chaudhry tweeted.

“Law shall take its course and it cannot be left to individuals,” he added.

The court’s decision triggered angry demonstrations led by the hardline TLP, with protesters demanding Bibi’s execution as they blocked major roads, paralyzing large parts of the country.

In response, officials made a deal with the Islamists to impose a travel ban on Bibi, who was released from prison earlier this month as she awaits the outcome of a final review of her case.

The TLP has promised more street protests if she is permitted to leave the country.

– With reporting from Agence France-Presse

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