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

    Former US Envoys Urge Obama to Delay Troop Cuts in Afghanistan

    Keeping troop levels up during conflict with both Taliban and Islamic State is necessary to support Kabul government, they say

    First Lady to Visit Africa to Promote Girls' Education

    Michele Obama will be joined by daughters and actresses Meryl Streep and Freida Pinto

    Video NYSE Analyst: Brexit Will Continue to Place Pressure on Markets

    Despite orderly pricing and execution strategy at the New York Stock Exchange, analyst explains added pressure on world financial markets is likely

    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.
    Brexit Vote Plunges Global Markets Into Uncharted Territoryi
    X
    June 24, 2016 9:38 PM
    British voters plunged global markets into unknown territory after they voted Thursday to leave the European Union. The results of the Brexit vote, the term coined to describe the referendum, caught many off guard. Analysts say the resulting volatility could last for weeks, perhaps longer. Mil Arcega reports.
    Video

    Video Brexit Vote Plunges Global Markets Into Uncharted Territory

    British voters plunged global markets into unknown territory after they voted Thursday to leave the European Union. The results of the Brexit vote, the term coined to describe the referendum, caught many off guard. Analysts say the resulting volatility could last for weeks, perhaps longer. Mil Arcega reports.
    Video

    Video Orlando Shooting Changes Debate on Gun Control

    It’s been nearly two weeks since the largest mass shooting ever in the United States. Despite public calls for tighter gun control laws, Congress is at an impasse. Democratic lawmakers resorted to a 1960s civil rights tactic to portray their frustration. VOA’s Carolyn Presutti explains how the Orlando, Florida shooting is changing the debate.
    Video

    Video Tunisian Fishing Town Searches for Jobs, Local Development Solutions

    As the European Union tries to come to grips with its migrant crisis, some newcomers are leaving voluntarily. But those returning to their home countries face an uncertain future.  Five years after Tunisia's revolution, the tiny North African country is struggling with unrest, soaring unemployment and plummeting growth. From the southern Tunisian fishing town of Zarzis, Lisa Bryant takes a look for VOA at a search for local solutions.
    Video

    Video 'American Troops' in Russia Despite Tensions

    Historic battle re-enactment is a niche hobby with a fair number of adherents in Russia where past military victories are played-up by the Kremlin as a show of national strength. But, one group of World War II re-enactors in Moscow has the rare distinction of choosing to play western ally troops. VOA's Daniel Schearf explains.
    Video

    Video Experts: Very Few Killed in US Gun Violence Are Victims of Mass Shootings

    The deadly shooting at a Florida nightclub has reignited the debate in the U.S. over gun control. Although Congress doesn't provide government health agencies funds to study gun violence, public health experts say private research has helped them learn some things about the issue. VOA's Carol Pearson reports.
    Video

    Video Trump Unleashes Broadside Against Clinton to Try to Ease GOP Doubts

    Recent public opinion polls show Republican Donald Trump slipping behind Democrat Hillary Clinton in the presidential election matchup for November. Trump trails her both in fundraising and campaign organization, but he's intensifying his attacks on the former secretary of state. VOA National Correspondent Jim Malone reports.
    Video

    Video Muslim American Mayor Calls for Tolerance

    Syrian-born Mohamed Khairullah describes himself as "an American mayor who happens to be Muslim." As the three-term mayor of Prospect Park, New Jersey, he believes his town of 6,000 is an example of how ethnicity and religious beliefs should not determine a community's leadership. Ramon Taylor has this report from Prospect Park.
    Video

    Video Internal Rifts Over Syria Policy Could Be Headache for Next US President

    With the Obama administration showing little outward enthusiasm for adopting a more robust Syria policy, there is a strong likelihood that the internal discontent expressed by State Department employees will roll over to the next administration. VOA State Department correspondent Pam Dockins reports.
    Video

    Video Senegal to Park Colorful ‘Cars Rapide’ Permanently

    Brightly painted cars rapide are a hallmark of Dakar, offering residents a cheap way to get around the capital city since 1976. But the privately owned minibuses are scheduled to be parked for good in late 2018, as Ricci Shryock reports for VOA.
    Video

    Video Florida Gets $1 Million in Emergency Government Funding for Orlando

    The U.S. government has granted $1 million in emergency funding to the state of Florida to cover the costs linked to the June 12 massacre in Orlando. U.S. Attorney General Loretta Lynch announced the grant Tuesday in Orlando, where she met with survivors of the shooting attack that killed 49 people. Zlatica Hoke reports.
    Video

    Video How to Print Impossible Shapes with Metal

    3-D printing with metals is rapidly becoming more advanced. As printers become more affordable, the industry is partnering with universities to refine processes for manufacturing previously impossible things. A new 3-D printing lab aims to bring the new technology closer to everyday use. VOA's George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video Big Somali Community in Minnesota Observes Muslim Religious Feast

    Ramadan is widely observed in the north central US state of Minnesota, which a large Muslim community calls home. VOA Somali service reporter Mohmud Masadde files this report from Minneapolis, the state's biggest city.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora