Accessibility links

Anti-Government Protesters Reach Pakistan's Parliament

  • VOA News

Thousands of anti-government protesters have reached Pakistan's parliament building, despite the government's efforts to keep them away.

The protesters, armed with wire cutters and at least one crane, early Wednesday managed to get past the barricade of shipping containers that Pakistani security forces put in place to protect Islamabad's so-called "Red Zone." That's where the parliament building is located. In addition to parliament, the area houses many Western embassies and the homes of the president and prime minister.

Among the protesters are supporters of cricket-star-turned-politician Imran Khan and anti-government cleric Tahir ul-Qadri, who are calling on Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif to resign. But the government has ruled out any possibility of Sharif resigning.

Pakistan deployed hundreds of soldiers and up to 30,000 additional security personnel to the area ahead of Tuesday's march.

The protesters include supporters of cricket-star-turned-politician Imran Khan and anti-government cleric Tahir-ul-Qadri.

Demonstrators from both camps have been massed in the capital for days.

The demonstrators led by Khan want Sharif to step down over alleged fraud in last year's parliamentary elections. Qadri also wants Prime Minister Sharif ousted.

But the government has ruled out any possibility of Sharif resigning, criticizing the demand as unconstitutional.

Announcing Tuesday's march Monday, Khan told supporters of his Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaaf party, or PTI, that the party -- parliament's third-largest political bloc -- would resign from the national parliament and three provincial legislatures.

Hours before the march, Pakistan's interior minister announced the government had decided to hand over the security of the Red Zone to the military. The announcement appeared intended to send the message that the military supports the government -- not the protesters.

Some information for this report was provided by AP, AFP and Reuters.

Show comments

XS
SM
MD
LG