Thousands of Pakistanis head to Islamabad for opposition rally demanding PM’s ouster

Published: August 14, 2014
Canada-politics-cleric-Muslim

Supporters of Canada-based preacher Tahir-ul-Qadri escort a vehicle carrying Qadri in Pakistan’s eastern city of Lahore on August 14, 2014, as they take part in a protest march to Islamabad. Arif Ali/AFP/Getty Images

ZAHEER BABAR
T
HE ASSOCIATED PRESS

LAHORE, Pakistan — Thousands of Pakistani opposition supporters on Thursday joined a large convoy headed to the capital, Islamabad, for a key rally to demand the ouster of the prime minister over allegations of vote fraud.

The rally is seen as the strongest challenge yet to the government of Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, just a year after he took office in the first democratic transfer of power in a country long plagued by military coups.

The protesters set out on Thursday morning from the city of Lahore in cars, trucks and buses, while others walked or drove motorcycles as they embarked on the 300 kilometre (187 mile) journey to Islamabad. Initially 5,000 protesters were on the march, but the number steadily increased. The convoy was moving so slow that it could cover only a distance of five kilometres in seven hours.

The convoy is led by Imran Khan, famous cricketer-turned-politician who heads the Tehrik-e-Insaf party, the third-largest in parliament. The demonstration was called to coincide with Pakistan’s Independence Day.

“I am going to Islamabad to seek resignation from Nawaz Sharif,” Khan told supporters in a speech Thursday evening.

“Get ready to win the match,” said Khan, who is revered in Pakistan for leading the national team that won the 1992 cricket World Cup.

Sharif’s ruling party has rejected Imran’s demand, saying the elected democratic government would complete its term, which ends in 2018.

Thousands of policemen were deployed across Islamabad and along the convoy’s route while the capital’s entry points were blocked since earlier this week with large shipping containers.

“We are taking measures to secure the capital from any violence,” said police official Jamil Hashmi.

Earlier, the convoy got off to a colorful start in Lahore, with protesters dancing to the beat of the drums and singing patriotic songs. Many women had the green and white of the Pakistani national flag painted on their cheeks, along with the red and green of Khan’s party.

Also on the march Thursday was Tahir-ul-Qadri, a Pakistani cleric who is also a Canadian national and who commands a loyal following of thousands through his network of mosques and religious schools in Pakistan. He left Lahore with thousands of his followers and was expected to join Khan’s rally on the road or in Islamabad.

Both the cleric and Khan demand Sharif’s government step down and new elections be held. Khan alleges last year’s vote was invalid due to widespread rigging by government supporters.

There was also concern that, once in Islamabad, the rally could descend into violence.

“We are out on the streets to do our struggle for a change in the system,” said one of the protesters, Mohammad Faheem.

Pakistan, a nuclear-armed country of 180 million people, has largely been ruled by military dictators since it was carved out of India in 1947.

Sharif, himself overthrown in the 1999 coup that brought former army chief Pervez Musharraf to power, has met regularly with top advisers ahead of the rally. The government has also invoked a rarely-used article in the constitution allowing the military to step in to maintain law and order if needed.

Speaking at an Independence Day ceremony in southwestern Pakistan, Sharif criticized the opposition rally, calling it “negative politics.”

Sharif said Khan would be better advised to “work to alleviate poverty and improve law and order” in Pakistan.

——

Associated Press writers Munir Ahmed, Asif Shahzad and Zarar Khan in Islamabad contributed to this report.

12:04ET 14-08-14

[+]

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , ,



Readers Comments (0)

Comments are closed.

Featured

desi-crime-sexual assault

Surrey man who pleaded guilty to mistreating sex trade workers should go to prison for 2-3 years: Crown

KEITH FRASER VANCOUVER DESI SURREY — A Surrey man who pleaded guilty to sexually assaulting a 14-year-old sex trade worker nearly 20 years ago and…
Continue Reading »

sexual harassment

‘Will you have fun with me?’: Immigration officer sexually harasses female passenger at Delhi airport

HINDUSTAN TIMES An immigration officer at the Delhi airport has been suspended after a female passenger complained that he sexually harassed her by asking obscene…
Continue Reading »

crime-Surrey

Two Surrey men in hospital with gunshot wounds after targeted shooting

VANCOUVER DESI SURREY — Two men are in hospital with gunshot wounds following what appears to be a targeted shooting in Surrey on Thursday night….
Continue Reading »

LOCAL NEWS

desi-crime-sexual assault

Surrey man who pleaded guilty to mistreating sex trade workers should go to prison for 2-3 years: Crown

KEITH FRASER VANCOUVER DESI SURREY — A Surrey man who pleaded guilty to sexually assaulting a 14-year-old sex trade worker nearly 20 years ago and…
Continue Reading »

Changes to Nova Scotia law allow sex assault victims to sue retroactively

By Keith Doucette THE CANADIAN PRESS HALIFAX — Nova Scotians who have been sexually assaulted can now launch civil lawsuits against their perpetrators regardless of…
Continue Reading »

Changes to Nova Scotia law allow sex assault victims to sue retroactively

By Keith Doucette THE CANADIAN PRESS HALIFAX — Nova Scotians who have been sexually assaulted can now launch civil lawsuits against their perpetrators regardless of…
Continue Reading »

Don't Miss...

World Cup final

Underarm incident recalled as Australia-New Zealand rivalry rekindles in World Cup final

STEVE MCMORRAN THE ASSOCIATED PRESS MELBOURNE, Australia — Relations between New Zealand and Australia at a political level have regained their natural cordiality in the…
Continue Reading »

Cricket World Cup

Clarke’s Australians prepare to take on unpopular role in the World Cup final vs New Zealand

JOHN PYE THE ASSOCIATED PRESS MELBOURNE, Australia — Win or lose, Michael Clarke and his Australian teammates are probably going to be portrayed as the…
Continue Reading »

India-Australia-weird news

Youth cut his tongue as sacrifice at an Indian temple for nation’s cricket victory

IANS Chennai – In a senseless act, a cricket crazy youth in Tamil Nadu offered the tip of his tongue as a sacrifice at a…
Continue Reading »

Freedom-Section 66A-India

Teenager shoots himself after father bans Facebook chat

IANS Lucknow - A 14-year-old boy shot himself Thursday after his father reprimanded him for chatting too often on social networking site Facebook, police said. The…
Continue Reading »

messy custody battle-desi lingerie model

Jeremy Renner’s messy divorce from B.C. model gets messier as custody battle rages

VANCOUVER DESI A B.C. woman who was married to Hollywood actor Jeremy Renner is being accused of being a gold digger and blackmailer who has…
Continue Reading »


Bollywood Latest

pakistani sex meera-Veena Malik

Gallery: Bollywood celebs in trouble with the law

ALMAS MEHERALLY VANCOUVER DESI Indian film actress Shruti Haasan has run into legal trouble after she pulled out of a signed contract, according to an…
Continue Reading »

Salman Khan-Bollywood

Bollywood actor Salman Khan denies he was driving or drunk during 2002 accident

IANS Mumbai – Bollywood actor Salman Khan on Friday told a Mumbai court, conducting the trial of the 2002 hit-and-run case involving him, that he…
Continue Reading »

Bollywood movie

Amitabh Bachchan: Balki challenges me with never-done-before roles

SUBHASH K. JHA IANS Mumbai – R. Balakrishnan and Amitabh Bachchan’s much anticipated third outing “Shamitabh” turned out to be a box office disaster, but…
Continue Reading »