News / Asia

Pakistani Government, Protesters Seek Solution to Impasse

Pakistani police officers stand guard near the Parliament building after tens of thousands of protesters entered Islamabad's high-security Red Zone the night before, five days after arriving in the capital from the eastern city of Lahore in convoys, in Is
Pakistani police officers stand guard near the Parliament building after tens of thousands of protesters entered Islamabad's high-security Red Zone the night before, five days after arriving in the capital from the eastern city of Lahore in convoys, in Is
Reuters

Leaders of Pakistani protesters trying to bring down Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif were talking with the government on Thursday on a way out of an impasse that has raised fears for the nuclear-armed country's political stability.

Former cricket star Imran Khan and cleric Tahir ul-Qadri, who controls a network of Islamic schools and hospitals, have been leading protests in the capital, Islamabad, since last Friday.

About 2,000 demonstrators gathered on the main road outside parliament for a second day on Thursday, hours after talks on an end to the turmoil finally got going.

“Yes, talks are on,” said Ahsan Iqbal, a prominent member of parliament from the ruling party. “We are progressing.”

Shahid Mursaleen, a spokesman for Qadri, also said their leaders had met negotiators.

Seek Sharif's resignation

Both Khan and Qadri want Sharif to resign over allegations of corruption and election rigging. Sharif, who won the last election, in May last year, by a landslide, has refused.

The protests have raised concern about stability in the country of 180 million people, at a time when the government is battling a Taliban insurgency and NATO troops are withdrawing from neighboring Afghanistan.

The confrontation has also shone a spotlight on the central issue in Pakistani politics: competition for power between the military and civilian leaders.

Some ruling party officials have accused elements within the military of orchestrating the protests to weaken the civilian government. The military insists it does not meddle in politics.

Most analysts doubt the military wants to seize power in a coup, and be forced to take responsibility for the country's dire economy and other problems.

But there is a widespread perception that the military is benefiting from the protests in terms of its relations with the government, because the government has been forced to rely on it for security.

On Tuesday, the military said the two sides should engage in dialog and warned that key government institutions were under its protection.

There have been indications that the military was frustrated with the government, in particular over the treason trial of former military chief and ex-President Pervez Musharraf, who  deposed Sharif in a 1999 coup.

There has also been disagreement between the government and the army on how to handle the Islamist militants attacking the state, and on relations with old rival India.

The army has traditionally seen internal security and foreign relations as its domains.

Forced way past barricades

On Tuesday, protesters used a crane and bolt cutters to force their way past barricades of shipping containers to push into central Islamabad's government and diplomatic heart.

Khan had threatened to march on the prime minister's house if Sharif did not resign, but later backed off that vow after the military issued a statement calling for dialog.

Mursaleen, Qadri's spokesman, said the protesters' demands included the resignation of the entire government and the registration of a murder case against the government  over the killing of some of Qadri's supports in clashes with police.

“We are here to stay until these demands are met,” he said.

On Thursday, Sharif was scheduled to address parliamen,t but he did not. His office declined to comment.

You May Like

AU Takes Action on Boko Haram, Defers on S. Sudan

African Union is moving forward with a request for a military force to stop the spread of Boko Haram insurgency in West Africa; Ban Ki-moon welcomes decision to form a five-nation force More

Mass Protests Held for 58 Killed in Pakistani Shi'ite Mosque Bombing

Thousands of Shi'ite Muslims took to the streets across Pakistan Saturday to protest a powerful bomb blast at a mosque in Sindh province during Friday prayers, killing dozens of people More

Williams Wins Australian Open with Straight-Set Victory over Sharapova

The win is Serena Williams' sixth in Australia, and her 19th overall Grand Slam title More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Egypt's Suez Canal Dreams Tempered by Continued Unresti
X
Heather Murdock
January 30, 2015 8:00 PM
Egypt plans to expand the Suez Canal, raising hopes that the end of its economic crisis may be in sight. But some analysts say they expect the project may cost too much and take too long to make life better for everyday Egyptians. VOA's Heather Murdock reports.
Video

Video Egypt's Suez Canal Dreams Tempered by Continued Unrest

Egypt plans to expand the Suez Canal, raising hopes that the end of its economic crisis may be in sight. But some analysts say they expect the project may cost too much and take too long to make life better for everyday Egyptians. VOA's Heather Murdock reports.
Video

Video Threat of Creeping Lava Has Hawaiians on Edge

Residents of the small town of Pahoa on the Big Island of Hawaii face an advancing threat from the Kilauea volcano. Local residents are keeping a watchful eye on creeping lava. Mike O’Sullivan reports.
Video

Video Pro-Kremlin Youth Group Creatively Promotes 'Patriotic' Propaganda

As Russia's President Vladimir Putin faces international pressure over Ukraine and a failing economy, unofficial domestic groups are rallying to his support. One such youth organization, CET, or Network, uses creative multimedia to appeal to Russia's urban youth with patriotic propaganda. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports.
Video

Video Mobile Infrared Scanners May Help Homeowners Save Energy

Mobile photo scanners have been successfully employed for navigational purposes, such as Google Maps. Now, a group of scientists from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology says the same technology could help homeowners better insulate their houses and save some money. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Filmmakers Produce Hand-Painted Documentary on Van Gogh

The troubled life of the famous 19th century Dutch painter Vincent van Gogh has been told through many books and films, but never in the way a group of filmmakers now intends to do. "Loving Vincent " will be the first ever feature-length film made of animated hand-painted images, done in the style of the late artist. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Issues or Ethnicity? Question Divides Nigeria

As Nigeria goes to the polls next month, many expect the two top presidential contenders to gain much of their support from constituencies organized along ethnic or religious lines. But are faith and regional blocs really what political power in Nigeria is about? Chris Stein reports.
Video

Video Rock-Consuming Organisms Alter Views of Life Processes

Scientists thought they knew much about how life works, until a discovery more than two decades ago challenged conventional beliefs. Scientists found that there are organisms that breathe rocks. And it is only recently that the scientific community is accepting that there are organisms that could get energy out of rocks. Correspondent Elizabeth Lee reports.
Video

Video Paris Attacks Highlight Global Weapons Black Market

As law enforcement officials piece together how the Paris and Belgian terror cells carried out their recent attacks, questions are being asked about how they obtained military grade assault weapons - which are illegal in the European Union. As VOA's Jeff Swicord reports, experts say there is a very active worldwide black market for these weapons, and criminals and terrorists are buying.
Video

Video Activists Accuse China of Targeting Religious Freedom

The U.S.-based Chinese religious rights group ChinaAid says 2014 was the worst year for religious freedom in China since the end of the Cultural Revolution. As Ye Fan reports, activists say Beijing has been tightening religious controls ever since Chinese leader Xi Jinping came to office. Hu Wei narrates.
Video

Video Theologians Cast Doubt on Morality of Drone Strikes

In 2006, stirred by photos of U.S. soldiers mistreating Iraqi prisoners, a group of American faith leaders and academics launched the National Religious Campaign Against Torture. It played an important role in getting Congress to investigate, and the president to ban, torture. VOA's Jerome Socolovsky reports.
Video

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

In the mid-1980’s, thousands of Sudanese boys escaped the country's civil war by walking for weeks, then months and finally for more than a year, up to 1,500 kilometers across three countries. The so-called Lost Boys of the Sudan had little time for games. But one of them later mastered the game of chess, and now teaches it to children in the New York area. VOA’s Bernard Shusman in New York has his story.
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.

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