News / Asia

Anti-Government Protesters March to Islamabad's 'Red Zone'

Pakistani cricketer-turned-politician Imran Khan delivers a speech during a protest in Islamabad, Pakistan, Aug. 18, 2014.
Pakistani cricketer-turned-politician Imran Khan delivers a speech during a protest in Islamabad, Pakistan, Aug. 18, 2014.
Ayaz Gul

Political tensions are set to come to a head in Pakistan, where an opposition politician says his party's lawmakers will resign from parliament and he will lead thousands of protesters into the capital’s heavily fortified “Red Zone,” despite stern government warnings.

Cricketer-turned politician Imran Khan has been leading an anti-government rally in the Pakistani capital, in a bid to force Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif to step down over alleged vote fraud.

The protesters are mostly activists of Khan’s Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaaf (PTI) party, parliament’s third-largest political bloc. They are camping out near a so-called high-security “Red Zone” in Islamabad that houses diplomatic missions, parliament, the prime minister and president, and government offices.

Their anti-government rally has been mostly peaceful since it began four days ago. However, in an attempt to intensify pressure on the government, Khan told an emotionally charged crowd Monday night that his party has decided to resign from the national parliament and three provincial legislatures.

"These fake parliaments are not acceptable to my party because they are the outcome of rigged elections. We also reject 'the fake prime minister,'" said Khan.  

The opposition politician also said he also decided to march toward the Red Zone Tuesday evening. He called on his supporters to follow him, and he warned security forces not to open fire on what he promised will be a peaceful and historic rally.

Authorities have deployed up to 30,000 security personnel and placed shipping containers to block access to the Red Zone.  

The government has ruled out any possibility of Prime Minister Sharif stepping down, criticizing the demand as unconstitutional.

Ruling party lawmaker Marvi Memon says the government has set up two special committees to initiate talks with Khan's party on his demands within constitutional limits. But she says the government is determined not to allow anyone to enter the Red Zone.   

“Peaceful or not peaceful, the demonstrations and protesters should not enter [the Red Zone]. Breaching the Red Zone will have serious consequences. We hope that he will agree to negotiations and not challenge the writ of the state," said Memon.

Memon sounded confident that “better sense” will prevail and Khan will seek a negotiated settlement of the issues related to the allegations of election fraud.
There are fears that any attempt by protesters to force their way into the Red Zone could trigger a violent confrontation with security forces.

Khan had promised to bring a million people to his anti-government rally, but the number so far has been far below his claims.

On Sunday, he surprised many in Pakistan by calling on his supporters across Pakistan to begin a so-called “civil disobedience movement” by not paying taxes and utility bills to what he alleged is a corrupt government.

The controversial announcement has led to severe media criticism of Khan. Lawmaker Marvi described it as an act of frustration.

“I would consider it frankly ludicrous per se, anti-democratic, illegal and definitely a desperate act, an act of frustration, and the reason is because the numbers that he was expecting did not come in," he said.

Meanwhile, thousands of followers of an anti-government cleric, Tahir-ul-Qadri, also are staging a “sit-in” protest not far from where Khan’s rally is located.
The Muslim cleric runs a network of Islamic schools and mosques in Pakistan and has been seeking justice for more than a dozen of his followers killed in a police crackdown in June.

Qadri also wants Prime Minister Sharif to step down, but the largely controversial cleric's critics say he is unlikely to pose any serious challenge for the government.

 

You May Like

Kurdish Party Pushes Political Gamble to Run in Turkey Poll

HDP announces it will run as political party instead of fielding independent candidates in June election, but faces tough 10 percent threshold More

Twitter Targets Islamic State

New research shows suspending Twitter accounts of Islamic State, its supporters has been effective; group, its backers are facing 'significant pressure,' says terrorism expert More

Video Former Sudan 'Lost Boy' Becomes Chess Master in NYC

Majur Juac made the leap from being a refugee in Africa to a master chess champion in US, where he shares his expertise with students More

This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
Comments
     
by: julia from: cali
August 20, 2014 3:44 PM
can someone please tell me that these protesters are not going door to door killing people. i need more info on this please :(

is it in any way violent?

In Response

by: LA from: NY
August 22, 2014 4:27 PM
100% INNOCENT protests, to get the president to resign. There is no violence yet, from either side.

However, the public is tired of corruption amongst government and want the PM to resign so they can elect someone worthy of presidency.

I am all for a peaceful beautiful revolution in Pakistan, with an honest president who doesnt work hand in hand with the USA.

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
NASA Monitors Earth’s Vital Signs From Spacei
X
Rosanne Skirble
January 27, 2015 5:05 PM
The U.S. space agency, NASA, is wrapping up its busiest 12-month period in more than a decade, with three missions launched in 2014 and two this month, one in early January and the fifth scheduled for January 29. As VOA’s Rosanne Skirble reports, the instruments being lifted into orbit are focused on Earth’s vital life support systems and how they are responding to a warmer planet.
Video

Video NASA Monitors Earth’s Vital Signs From Space

The U.S. space agency, NASA, is wrapping up its busiest 12-month period in more than a decade, with three missions launched in 2014 and two this month, one in early January and the fifth scheduled for January 29. As VOA’s Rosanne Skirble reports, the instruments being lifted into orbit are focused on Earth’s vital life support systems and how they are responding to a warmer planet.
Video

Video Saved By a Mistake - an Auschwitz Survivor's Story

Dagmar Lieblova was 14 when she arrived at Auschwitz in December 1943, along with her entire Czech Jewish family. All of them were to die there, but she was able to leave after several months due to a bureaucratic mix-up which saved her life. Now 85, with three children and six grandchildren, she says she has a feeling of victory. This report by Ahmad Wadiei and Farin Assemi, of RFE/RL's Radio Farda is narrated by RFE’s Raymond Furlong.
Video

Video Weekly Protests in Korea Keep Japanese WWII Atrocities Alive

Every week in Seoul protesters gather in front of the Japanese Embassy to demand an apology and reparations from Tokyo for the thousands of South Korean women who were forced into prostitution during World War II. Although this year marks the 70th anniversary of the end of the war, these protestors have helped keep the issue of comfort women alive and made it difficult for Japan to move beyond its past wartime atrocities. VOA's Brian Padden reports from Seoul.
Video

Video Exercise: New Prescription for Parkinsons Disease

Exercise could be the new prescription for Parkinson's Disease, a progressive disorder of the nervous system that affects movement. More than six million people worldwide suffer from Parkinsons and they're traditionally treated with medication and surgery. Shelley Schlender has more.
Video

Video Brussels Shaken as New Greek Leader Challenges Europe’s Austerity Drive

Greece’s youngest-ever prime minister, 40-year-old Alexis Tsipras, was sworn in Monday after his victorious far-left Syriza party entered a coalition with far right rivals. Tsipras says he will restore dignity to Greece by ending spending cuts. So begins a new chapter for the country at the epicenter of Europe’s economic crisis - a change that has sent tremors across the continent, as Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video Obama Urges Closer Economic Ties During Historic India Visit

U.S. President Barack Obama says the United States and India must do better to capitalize on untapped potential in their economic relationship - by removing some of the roadblocks to greater trade and investment. As VOA correspondent Aru Pande reports from New Delhi, Obama spoke after participating in India’s Republic Day celebration.
Video

Video White House Grapples With Yemen Counterterrorism Strategy

Reports say the U.S. has carried out a drone strike on suspected militants in Yemen, the first after President Barack Obama offered reassurances the U.S. is continuing its counterterrorism operations in the country. The future of those operations has been in question following the collapse last week of Yemen’s government. VOA White House correspondent Luis Ramirez reports.
Video

Video Worldwide Photo Workshops Empower Youth

Last September, 20 young adults from South Sudan took part in a National Geographic Photo Camp. They are among hundreds of students from around the world who have learned how to use a camera to tell the stories of the people in their communities through the powerful medium of photography. Three camp participants talked about their experiences recently on a visit to Washington. VOA’s Julie Taboh reports.
Video

Video US, Japan Offer Lessons as Eurozone Launches Huge Stimulus

The Euro currency has fallen sharply after the European Central Bank announced a bigger-than-expected $67 billion-a-month quantitative easing program Thursday - commonly seen as a form of printing new money. Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London on whether the move might rescue the eurozone economy -- and what lessons have been learned from similar programs around the world.
Video

Video Oil Price Drop Troubles Texas Producers

As oil prices have fallen over the past several months, drilling operations have slowed in some parts of the United States - including Texas, the state that surpasses all others in energy production. The Lone Star State’s energy output has been boosted in recent years by development of resources trapped deep below ground in the Eagle Ford shale deposit, which stretches across south central Texas. As VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Karnes City, Texas, the drop in oil prices has created concerns,
Video

Video Nigerian Elections Pose Concern of Potential Conflict in 'Middle Belt'

Nigeria’s north-central state of Kaduna has long been the site of fighting between Muslims and Christians as well as between people of different ethnic groups. As the February elections approach, community and religious leaders are making plans they hope will keep the streets calm after results are announced. Chris Stein reports from the state capital, Kaduna.
Video

Video As Viewership Drops, Obama Puts His Message on YouTube

Ratings reports show President Obama’s State of the Union address this week drew the lowest number of viewers for this annual speech in 15 years. White House officials anticipated this, and the president has decided to take a non-traditional approach to getting his message out. VOA White House correspondent Luis Ramirez reports.

Circumventing Censorship

An Internet Primer for Healthy Web Habits

As surveillance and censoring technologies advance, so, too, do new tools for your computer or mobile device that help protect your privacy and break through Internet censorship.
More

All About America

AppleAndroid