News / Asia

Pakistan Opposition Refuses to Halt Protests

Pakistani protesters help escort their injured colleague to an ambulance during a protest near prime minister's home in Islamabad, Sunday, Aug. 31, 2014.
Pakistani protesters help escort their injured colleague to an ambulance during a protest near prime minister's home in Islamabad, Sunday, Aug. 31, 2014.
Ayaz Gul

Pakistan’s powerful military convened an unprecedented meeting of its top leadership on Sunday, amid continuing clashes between police and protesters who demand that Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif step down. Violence since Saturday has left at least three people dead and more than 400 wounded.

The clashes erupted late Thursday after thousands of protesters tried to storm the building that serves as the office and home for the Pakistani prime minister. Security forces responded by firing tear gas shells and rubber bullets at the demonstrators.
 
Clashes continued intermittently throughout Sunday as protesters, some armed with clubs and hammers, threw stones at riot police, who fired tear gas.

Ongoing demonstrations

Thousands of protesters have camped out in Islamabad since August 14. They are led by opposition leader Imran Khan and a populist anti-government cleric, Tahir-ul-Qadri. Both want Sharif out of office and for new elections to be held under a reformed national electoral process.
 
Khan addressed his supporters Sunday night and vowed not to back down unless Sharif steps down. Khan called on his supporters from all over the country to break through barricades to reach the protest zone.
 
Khan told the rally, “God willing we will confront the police and you need to show the same resolve you demonstrated the other day, despite the massive illegal police crackdown on peaceful protesters.”
 
On Sunday, Pakistan Army Chief General Raheel Sharif chaired a meeting of his top commanders and warned the government “further use of force will only aggravate” the political unrest.

Military statement

A military statement quoted him as reiterating that the standoff should be resolved politically without wasting any time, and without recourse to violent means. While reaffirming support for democracy, the commander reviewed with serious concerns the existing political crisis and the violent turn it has taken.
 
Analysts suggest the statement appears to be aimed at dispelling a dominant perception that the military is secretly backing the protests to make way for another coup in Pakistan by exploiting weaknesses of the elected government.   
 
Pakistani police also have attacked television crews and other journalists covering the demonstrations.
 
The police action has wounded several cameramen with local news channels; some have suffered serious injuries. Television footage shows policemen dragging crew members out of broadcasting vans and beating them with sticks.  The violence outraged groups campaigning for journalists’ rights, condemning it as a direct assault on media freedom.  

Joint session

A federal minister, Saad Rafique, promised the government will investigate and punish those responsible for the aggression against the media.
 
"No disciplined force like police can be allowed to carry out such brutal and barbaric assaults," said Rafique, adding that it has "embarrassed the government and weakened its case.”  
 
Prime Minister Sharif, who refuses to step down, convened a meeting of his senior ministers at his official residence Sunday to discuss the political standoff, while the nearby Constitutional Avenue looked like a war zone.
 
Officials say the meeting condemned mob attacks on “symbols of the state,” calling them undemocratic and unconstitutional. Officials also say they “appreciated” steps the police have taken to defeat protesters’ designs.

The prime minister has decided to convene a joint session of the parliament to discuss the mass protests calling for his ouster, according to officials.

 

 

You May Like

UN Fears Rights Violations in China-backed Projects

UNHCHR investigates link between financing development and ignoring safeguards for human rights More

Boko Haram Violence Tests Nigerians’ Faith in Buhari

New president has promised to stem insurgency; he’s scheduled to meet with President Obama at White House July 20 More

Social Media Network Wants Privacy in User’s Hands

Encryption's popularity in messaging is exploding; now it's the foundation of a new social network More

This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
Comments
     
by: Sanaullah from: Multan, Pakistan
September 01, 2014 12:16 PM
The majority of Pakistani people are poor and frustrated. They want quick change to get rid of their misery. They cannot tolerate any new government for more than a year. The rabble rousers especially the politicians who had lost the last elections understand very well this secret. The establishment including parts of the judicial system wants to keep power in their own hands to enjoy their perks. They see the disgruntled politicians as their allies and join hands with them to create a law and order situation to topple the government.

Alas some foreign hands also come into the fray. The powers who have guns prevail in the end and unseat the government. This is a pattern that has been repeated before all previous martial laws. Once the disgruntled politicians force their way into power, they take an about turn and immediately take steps to maintain the status quo of keeping power in establishment's hands. The people then are kept high and dry, poor and miserable. The show on this pattern is now on and continuing till the desired results are achieved.

by: erikZ
September 01, 2014 3:56 AM
As seen up close, the protestors were not storming any building, they're clearing the containers that were placed on the road to prevent the protest march. When suddenly supporters of the prime minister wearing police uniforms started shooting at the crowd (which included women and children) & shelling them with expired Tear Gas. The gassing of the public continued for nearly six hours resulting in 12 deaths and over 400 injuries, some of them in critical condition.

by: MUSTAFA from: INDIA
August 31, 2014 11:02 PM
I cannot understand why PM Party is not willing to give justice to common Pakistani. This is very sad affairs that PM came from Saudi Arabia after 10 Years, even then he did not learn any thing from past mistake. He did not catch any human killer, looters, Tax evaders or any Criminals in the last 14 months. Pakistani Court gave death penalty to Human Killers because he is supporter of Terrorist Group he stop to implement court orders. If He wants to complete Five Years, then he has to show some actions against Human Killers or Criminals. Other wise very difficult job for him to compete his tenure. Terrorist Group will not give life to his Govt, only with honest Govt he can compete his tenure. Better to give some fresh air to Pakistani. Pakistani feel suffocation under this situation. PM has army of Minsters more than 100 for Poor Pakistan, who breath because of foreign loan. If PM wants him self as Good PM, then give Education. Business Climate, safety and security to Pakistani. No body can live long in this world on false promise. He wasted important time on Musarraf case and wasted more then TWO months to negotiate with Human Killers TALIBAN. Better to control expenditure and improve efficiency will save him.

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Making Music, Fleeing Bombs: New Film on Sudan’s Internal Refugeesi
X
Carolyn Weaver
July 06, 2015 6:47 PM
In 2012, Sudanese filmmaker Hajooj Kuka went to make a documentary among civil war refugees in Sudan’s Blue Nile and Nuba Mountains region. What he found surprised him: music was helping to save people from bombing raids by their own government. VOA’s Carolyn Weaver has more.
Video

Video Making Music, Fleeing Bombs: New Film on Sudan’s Internal Refugees

In 2012, Sudanese filmmaker Hajooj Kuka went to make a documentary among civil war refugees in Sudan’s Blue Nile and Nuba Mountains region. What he found surprised him: music was helping to save people from bombing raids by their own government. VOA’s Carolyn Weaver has more.
Video

Video Rice Farmers Frustrated As Drought Grips Thailand

A severe drought in Thailand is limiting the growing season of the country’s important rice crop. Farmers are blaming the government for not doing more to protect a key export. Steve Sandford reports from Chiang Mai, Thailand.
Video

Video 'From This Day Forward' Reveals Difficult Journey of Transgender Parent

In her documentary, "From This Day Forward", filmmaker Sharon Shattuck reveals the personal journey of her transgender father, as he told his family that he always felt he was a woman inside and decided to live as one. VOA’s Penelope Poulou has more.
Video

Video Floodwaters Threaten Iconic American Home

The Farnsworth House in the Midwest State of Illinois is one of the most iconic homes in America. Thousands of tourists visit the site every year. Its location near a river inspired the design of the house, but, as VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, that very location is now threatening the existence of this National Historic Landmark.
Video

Video Olympics Construction Scars Sacred Korean Mountain

Environmentalists in South Korea are protesting a Winter Olympics construction project to build a ski slope through a 500-year-old protected forest. Brian Padden reports that although there is strong national support for hosting the 2018 Pyeongchang Winter Olympics, there are growing public concerns over the costs and possible ecological damage at the revered mountain.
Video

Video Xenophobia Victims in South Africa Flee Violence, Then Return

Many Malawians fled South Africa early this year after xenophobic attacks on African immigrants. But many quickly found life was no better at home and have returned to South Africa – often illegally and without jobs, and facing the tough task of having to start over. Lameck Masina and Anita Powell file from Johannesburg.
Video

Video Family of American Marine Calls for Release From Iranian Prison

As the crowd of journalists covering the Iran talks swells, so too do the opportunities for media coverage.  Hoping to catch the attention of high-level diplomats, the family of American-Iranian marine Amir Hekmati is in Vienna, pleading for his release from an Iranian prison after nearly 4 years.  VOA’s Heather Murdock reports from Vienna.
Video

Video UK Holds Terror Drill as MPs Mull Tunisia Response

After pledging a tough response to last Friday’s terror attack in Tunisia, which came just days before the 10th anniversary of the bomb attacks on London’s transport network, British security services are shifting their focus to overseas counter-terror operations. VOA's Henry Ridgwell has more.
Video

Video Obama on Cuba: This is What Change Looks Like

President Barack Obama says the United States will soon reopen its embassy in Cuba for the first time since 1961, ending a half-century of isolation. VOA White House correspondent Luis Ramirez reports.
Video

Video Hate Groups Spread Influence Via Internet

Hate groups of various kinds are using the Internet for propaganda and recruitment, and a Jewish human rights organization that monitors these groups, the Simon Wiesenthal Center, says their influence is growing. The messages are different, but the calls to hatred or violence are similar. VOA's Mike O’Sullivan reports.
Video

Video Blind Somali Journalist Defies Odds in Mogadishu

Despite improving security in the last few years, Somalia remains one of the most dangerous countries to be a journalist – even more so for someone who cannot see. Abdulaziz Billow has the story of journalist Abdifatah Hassan Kalgacal, who has been reporting from the Somali capital for the last decade despite being blind.
Video

Video Rabbi Hits Road to Heal Jewish-Muslim Relations in France

France is on high alert after last week's terrorist attack near the city Lyon, just six months after deadly Paris shootings. The attack have added new tensions to relations between French Jews and Muslims. France’s Jewish and Muslim communities also share a common heritage, though, and as far as one French rabbi is concerned, they are destined to be friends. From the Paris suburb of La Courneuve, Lisa Bryant reports about Rabbi Michel Serfaty and his friendship bus.

VOA Blogs