Why was Pakistan general giving money to protesters?

Source: BBC

A video showing a senior Pakistani army officer distributing money to anti-government protesters in Islamabad has prompted a fierce reaction on social media.

The footage is being interpreted by some as rare evidence of the “soft spot” the military is believed to have for religious groups, whose support can be mobilised against mainstream political parties.

The demonstrators blocked a main road in Islamabad for three weeks until the military brokered an end to the protest on Monday after a botched police operation. The law minister then resigned, meeting a key demand of the protesters who had accused him of blasphemy.

The deal was seen as capitulation by the civilian authorities under pressure from the military.

In the video, director-general of the Punjab Rangers Maj-Gen Azhar Navid Hayat is seen giving envelopes containing 1,000-rupee ($9.50; £7) notes to participants in the protests, who were described as having no money to pay their bus fare home.

“This is a gift from us to you,” the general is heard telling one bearded man. “Aren’t we with you too?”

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