Islamabad, Aug 16:
Thousands of participants in two anti-government marches arrived in Pakistani capital Islamabad late Friday to stage a sit-in and demand the resignation of the country’s prime minister.
Cricketer-turned-politician and opposition leader Imran Khan, and religious cleric Tahir ul Qadri, who led the protesters, are later scheduled to address their supporters and express their specific demands, Xinhua reported.
The marches began Thursday from Lahore and arrived in Islamabad after nearly 36 hours. Both the marches went relatively peaceful during their 370 km-long route.
However, supporters of the ruling Pakistan Muslim League (PML-N) clashed with the marchers in Gujranwala, 60 km from Lahore. Several of the Khan’s supporters were injured after being hit by stones. Later, police arrested some workers of the ruling party.
Earlier in the day, Khan, the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) chairman, said his partymen were attacked by PML-N activists, adding that the Sharif brothers (Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif and Punjab Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif) will be responsible if any untoward incident happened during the anti-government march to Islamabad.
In Islamabad, the government has deployed around 30,000 security personnel including army troops to ensure security to foil any violence attempt.
Imran Khan had earlier told his supporters that he would demand resignation of Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif as according to him he formed the government through ‘rigging’ in the last year’s parliamentary elections, the claim rejected by the government.
Khan’s party, PTI governs the northwestern Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province and has also reasonable representation in the National Assembly.
“I will not end the sit-in until Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif resigns,” Khan had told his supporters on the launch of the “Azadi (independence) March”.
Qadri, who heads Pakistan Awami Tehrik (PAT), says he intends to bring out a “revolution” as the present system has failed to deliver justice to the people.
The government has allocated two different locations for both parties to hold demonstrations, Pakistan’s Interior Minister Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan said.
The minister said the marchers will not be allowed to enter the “Red Zone” that houses diplomatic missions, parliament house, presidency, Prime Minister’s office and several other sensitive buildings.