News / Asia

Anti-Government Protesters Reach Pakistan's Parliament

Pakistani Protesters Demand PM's Resignationi
August 20, 2014 4:13 AM
Tens of thousands of anti-government protesters marched on Pakistan's parliament Tuesday, demanding the resignation of Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif. The demonstrations are led by two charismatic opposition leaders who claim that the ruling party rigged the 2013 election, which marked the country's first peaceful transfer of power between two civilian governments. Zlatica Hoke reports the demonstrators vow to continue.
Watch related video report from VOA's Zlatica Hoke.
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.

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Comment Sorting
August 19, 2014 10:44 PM
Imran Khan could not perform well in Provincial Govt. How Pakistani can expect better results on Federal Level. He did not open new school, college, University, Health Clinic, Hospital. He did not improve security situation, good business climate, new investment. When his performance is Big Minus, then how he can claim PM Position. First of all show your efficiency then go for bigger position. He cannot select good wife and cannot live with second wife because of mental disturbance.

by: shakil1 from: multan pakistan
August 19, 2014 8:30 PM
both of them seem to have lost their reason. they can give nothing but trouble to the Pakistani people. let there be some stability in this god forsaken country,

by: Anonymous
August 19, 2014 3:53 PM
Imran khan has gone mad thats all

by: zaheer from: usa
August 19, 2014 1:39 PM
Really? prejudice......You are calling a country's law enforcement agency 'riot'...really? you wanna know what riot is? Ferguson, Missouri...that's where riot police is.....

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