Anti-govt marches enter Pakistani capital
Updated: 2014-08-16 07:53
|Supporters of cricketer-turned-opposition politician Imran Khan take part in the Freedom March in Gujranwala August 15, 2014. Clashes broke out Friday as tens of thousands of Pakistani protesters from two anti-government movements converged on the capital, presenting the 15-month-old civilian government with its biggest challenge yet.[Photo/Agencies]|
ISLAMABAD - Thousands of participants in two anti-government marches entered the Pakistani capital of Islamabad late Friday to stage sit-in and present demands.
A senior opposition leader, Imran Khan, and religious scholar Dr Tahir ul Qadri led the marchers who will deliver speeches to their supporters. The marches had started on Thursday from the eastern city of Lahore and arrived in Islamabad after nearly 36 hours.
In Islamabad, the government has deployed around 30,000 security personnel including army troops to ensure security for the capital city.
Imran Khan had earlier told his supporters that would demand resignation of Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif as according to him he formed the government through 'rigging' in the last year's parliamentary elections, the claim rejected by the government.
Imran Khan heads Pakistan Tehrik-e-Insaf party, which rules the northwestern Khyberpakhtunkhwa province and has also reasonable representation in the National Assembly.
Dr Qadri, who heads Pakistan Awami Tehrik or Peoples Movement, says he intends to bring out a "revolution" as the present system has failed to deliver justice to the people.
The government has allocated two different locations for both parties to hold demonstrations, Interior Minister Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan says. The minister said the marchers will not be allowed to enter the "Red Zone" that houses diplomatic missions, parliament house, Presidency, Prime Minister's office and several other sensitive buildings.
The marches had been relatively peaceful during 370 kilometers journey however supporters of the ruling Pakistan Muslim League clashed with the marchers in Gujranwala, a main city nearly 60 kilometers from Lahore. Several Khan's supporters were injured after hit by stones. The police arrested some workers of the ruling party.
The government did not create any hurdles on the way of the marchers however containers have been placed on roads leading to the Red Zone to stop the marchers from going there.
Imran Khan had stated that he would gather around one million supporters in Islamabad, however, political analysts say the number of people accompanied him were less than he had claimed.
"I will not end the sit-in until Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif resigns," Khan had told his supporters on the launch of the "Azadi (independence) March."
Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif has ruled out threat to his government and ministers say no question arises of his resignation. The government accuses Khan and Qadri of derailing the elected government and to stop Prime Minister from his serious efforts to address to the country's problems.