News / Asia

    Pakistan Opposition Leader Calls for Tax Boycott in Anti-government Protest

    Pakistani opposition politician Imran Khan (C) waves while addressing supporters in Islamabad August 17, 2014.Pakistani opposition politician Imran Khan (C) waves while addressing supporters in Islamabad August 17, 2014.
    x
    Pakistani opposition politician Imran Khan (C) waves while addressing supporters in Islamabad August 17, 2014.
    Pakistani opposition politician Imran Khan (C) waves while addressing supporters in Islamabad August 17, 2014.
    Reuters

    Leading opposition politician Imran Khan urged Pakistanis on Sunday not to pay taxes or utility bills as a protest against the government and vowed to force the country's “corrupt” prime minister to step down this week.

    “After two days ... your time is up,” Khan shouted to thousands of supporters at a rally in central Islamabad.

    Police estimated on Sunday that around 55,000 people occupied two streets in the center of the Pakistani capital as part of separate protests led by Khan and cleric Tahir ul-Qadri.

    Both men say they will stay in the streets until Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, whom they condemn as corrupt, resigns. Qadri gave him a 48-hour ultimatum on Saturday night.

    Sharif's landslide election win marked the first democratic transfer of power in the history of the nuclear-armed nation of 180 million people. But barely a year after taking power, he has struggled to overcome daily power cuts, a sluggish economy and a Taliban insurgency. Anti-Western militant groups have been growing in strength, worrying Pakistan's allies.

    Khan, a former international cricket star, did not repeat a call for protesters to march on parliament, saying he did not want to provoke violence.

    “We will go for civil disobedience and will not pay taxes or utility bills till the time Nawaz Sharif resigns,” he said.

    Less than one percent of Pakistanis pay income tax, and the last time Pakistan prosecuted someone for income tax evasion was more than 25 years ago.

    Khan alternated between urging his supporters to protest peacefully and warning authorities he might not be able to control them.

    “After two days I will tell [Prime Minister] Nawaz Sharif that I will not be able hold the people back,” Khan said.

    Khan said on Saturday that he was struggling to hold his supporters back from marching on the “Red Zone,” an enclave that is home to top government buildings like Parliament and the Supreme Court and most Western embassies.

    Many of the young men at Khan's protest said they were eager to push against the fortified lines of riot police if Khan commanded.

    “I told my parents, if I am martyred, pray for me,” said student Muhammed Qasim, 21, his goatee painted in the red and green colors of Khan's party.

    Riot police wearing body armor and carrying tear gas stacked shipping containers on top of each other and covered them with oil to prevent people from climbing them behind the stage where Khan spoke.

    ‘Insecure country’

    The country's information minister, Pervez Rashid, told local television station Geo the government would not permit protesters to overrun government offices or the Red Zone.

    “If they go to the Red Zone, will the world see it?” Rashid asked. “This is our internal issue, but if they go into the Red Zone, the issue will be heard in capitals across the world via their embassies. And there will be alarm bells in the capitals, signaling that Pakistan has turned into an insecure country.”

    Sharif's relationship with the powerful military has been poor, leading some in his government to suggest elements in the military are directing the protests to weaken the government and discourage policies it disapproves of.

    Those include the prosecution for treason of former army chief and president Pervez Musharraf, who overthrew Sharif in a coup in 1999, ushering in a decade of military rule.

    Despite Pakistan's history of coups, few feel the military wants to oust Sharif, however. The Supreme Court issued a warning on Friday against “unconstitutional” action.

    Some analysts say the unrest has erupted because the opposition senses Sharif is vulnerable, not only over his rocky relations with the military, but also because of dithering over peace talks with the Taliban and failure to fill key ministries more than a year after taking office.

    Qadri and Khan both arrived in Islamabad late on Friday after a two-day procession of tens of thousands of people through Punjab province, heartland of support for Sharif. Their protests have remained separate because the two have different supporters and plans for what should happen if Sharif steps down.

    Qadri's supporters have set up camp on the capital's main thoroughfare, Jinnah Avenue, forcing many businesses to close. Khan's protest is on an adjacent street, in the area of Aabpara Chowk.

    “We are giving 48 hours for the government to resign and dissolve the assemblies and present themselves before the law,” Qadri said Saturday night.

    “Otherwise the people will decide and I will not be responsible.”

    You May Like

    Top US General: Turkish Media Report ‘Absurd'

    General Dunford rejects ‘irresponsible' claims of coup involvement by former four-star Army General Campbell, who led NATO forces in Afghanistan before retiring earlier this year

    Video Saving Ethiopian Children Thought to Be Cursed

    'Omo Child' looks at efforts of one African man to stop killings of ‘mingi’ children

    Protests Over Western Troops Threaten Libyan 'Unity' Government

    Fears mount that Islamist foes of ‘unity' government plan to declare a revolutionaries' council in Tripoli

    This forum has been closed.
    Comment Sorting
    Comments
         
    by: MUSTAFA from: INDIA
    August 17, 2014 10:50 PM
    What is the efficiency of Imran Khan Govt in one province of Pakistan. What he did for Safety & Security of common peoples, capture any killer and give him punishment, Improve Business climate, Open any new School, College or University, open any clinic or Hospital, All are Big Nil. Imran Khan gave Jamat Islami Members as Seniour Minister without any Portfolio. What is this, this is Bribe to Jamat Islami as to give support to Imran Khan in assembly. Jamat Islami called it self as religious party but feel pleasure in acceptance Bribe. Imran Khan cannot select a wife and cannot live with wife. How He can serve as PM of Pakistan when his Govt performance is Nil. He has choice to choose any body as second wife, but girls knows very well he is completely Un Balance man.

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    London’s Financial Crown at Risk as Rivals Eye Brexit Opportunitiesi
    X
    VOA News
    July 25, 2016 5:09 PM
    By most measures, London rivals New York as the only true global financial center. But Britain’s vote to leave the European Union – so-called ‘Brexit’ – means the city could lose its right to sell services tariff-free across the bloc, risking its position as Europe’s financial headquarters. Already some banks have said they may shift operations to the mainland. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
    Video

    Video London’s Financial Crown at Risk as Rivals Eye Brexit Opportunities

    By most measures, London rivals New York as the only true global financial center. But Britain’s vote to leave the European Union – so-called ‘Brexit’ – means the city could lose its right to sell services tariff-free across the bloc, risking its position as Europe’s financial headquarters. Already some banks have said they may shift operations to the mainland. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
    Video

    Video Recycling Lifeline for Lebanon’s Last Glassblowers

    In a small Lebanese coastal town, one family is preserving a craft that stretches back millennia. The art of glass blowing was developed by Phoenicians in the region, and the Khalifehs say they are the only ones keeping the skill alive in Lebanon. But despite teaming up with an eco-entrepreneur and receiving an unexpected boost from the country’s recent trash crisis the future remains uncertain. John Owens reports from Sarafand.
    Video

    Video Migrants Continue to Risk Lives Crossing US Border from Mexico

    In his speech Thursday before the Republican National Convention, the party’s presidential candidate, Donald Trump, reiterated his proposal to build a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border if elected. Polls show a large percentage of Americans support better control of the nation's southwestern border, but as VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from the border town of Nogales in the Mexican state of Sonora, the situation faced by people trying to cross the border is already daunting.
    Video

    Video In State of Emergency, Turkey’s Erdogan Focuses on Spiritual Movement

    The state of emergency that Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has declared is giving him even more power to expand a purge that has seen an estimated 60,000 people either arrested or suspended from their jobs. VOA Europe correspondent Luis Ramirez reports from Istanbul.
    Video

    Video Calm the Waters: US Doubles Down Diplomatic Efforts in ASEAN Meetings

    The United States is redoubling diplomatic efforts and looking to upcoming regional meetings to calm the waters after an international tribunal invalidated the legal basis of Beijing's extensive claims in the South China Sea. VOA State Department correspondent Nike Ching has the story.
    Video

    Video Four Brother Goats Arrive in Brooklyn on a Mission

    While it's unusual to see farm animals in cities, it's become familiar for residents of Brooklyn, New York, to see a little herd of goats. Unlike gas-powered mowing equipment, goats remove invasive weeds quietly and without adding more pollution to the air. As Faiza Elmasry tells us, this is a pilot program and if it proves to be successful, the goat gardener program will be extended to other areas of New York. Faith Lapidus narrates.
    Video

    Video Scientists in Poland Race to Save Honeybees

    Honeybees are in danger worldwide. Causes of what's known as colony collapse disorder range from pesticides and loss of habitat to infections. But scientists in Poland say they are on track to finding a cure for one of the diseases. VOA’s George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video Wall Already Runs Along Parts of US-Mexico Border

    The Republican Party’s presidential nominee, Donald Trump, gained the support of many voters by saying he would build a wall to keep undocumented immigrants and drugs from coming across the border from Mexico. Critics have called his idea impractical and offensive to Mexico, while supporters say such a bold approach is needed to control the border. VOA’s Greg Flakus has more from the border town of Nogales, Arizona.
    Video

    Video New HIV Tests Emphasize Rapid Results

    As the global fight against AIDS intensifies, activists have placed increasing importance on getting people to know their HIV status. Some companies are developing new HIV testing methods designed to be quick, easy and accurate. Thuso Khumalo looks at the latest methods, presented at the International AIDS conference in Durban, South Africa.
    Video

    Video African Youth with HIV Urge More Support

    HIV, the virus that causes AIDS, is the top killer of teens in sub-Saharan Africa. But many youths say their experience with the virus is unique and needs to be addressed differently than the adult epidemic. VOA South African Correspondent Anita Powell reports.
    Video

    Video Pop-Up Art Comes to Your Living Room, Backyard and Elsewhere

    Around the world, independent artists and musicians wrestle with a common problem: where to exhibit or perform? Traditional spaces such as museums and galleries are reserved for bigger names, and renting a space is not feasible for many. Enter ArtsUp, which connects artists with venue owners. Whether it’s a living room, restaurant, office or even a boat, pop-up events are bringing music and art to unexpected places. Tina Trinh has more.
    Video

    Video Scotland’s Booming Whisky Industry Fears Brexit Hangover

    After Britain’s vote to leave the European Union, Scotland’s government wants to break away from the United Kingdom – fearing the nation’s exports are at risk. Among the biggest of these is whisky. Henry Ridgwell reports on a time of turmoil for those involved in the ancient art of distilling Scotland’s most famous product.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora