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Pakistani Cleric, Government Reach Deal to End Protest

A Muslim cleric who led street protests in Pakistan's capital this week demanding the resignation of the country's government says he has reached a deal to end four days of demonstrations.

Muhammad Tahir-ul Qadri told supporters in Islamabad Thursday that he had reached an agreement with the government.

Signed by the Canadian-Pakistani Sufi cleric and Prime Minister Raja Pervez Ashraf, the so-called "Islamabad Declaration" states the National Assembly may be dissolved in favor of an interim government a few days before its term was set to end on March 15.

Qadri said that would allow for 90 days until the vote for a new parliament is held time to vet those politicians standing for elections.

Tens of thousands of Qadri's supporters began converging on the capital starting on Monday.

Earlier Thursday, , the head of Pakistan's anti-corruption bureau told Pakistan's Supreme Court that he did not have sufficient evidence to arrest Prime Minister Ashraf on corruption charges.



On Tuesday, the court ordered the arrest of Mr. Ashraf and 15 others on charges related to a scandal involving private power stations.

The prime minister is accused of taking bribes for arranging to build power plants to serve Pakistan's power deficiency. He has denied the allegations.

Pakistan had been set to hold parliamentary elections in mid-May, but the Qadri called on the government to step down immediately, to clear the way for an interim Cabinet to root out graft and mismanagement. He blames those shortcomings for chronic energy shortages, slow economic growth and a rise in crime and the Taliban insurgency.

Addressing the protesters on Tuesday, Qadri slammed corrupt lawmakers, calling them looters and thieves, while praising both Pakistan's military and judiciary.

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