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Thursday, 14 August 2014

Pakistan braces for day of protest


Imran Khan: “We want re-elections….this government does not have a mandate to rule”
Pakistan is bracing itself ahead of Thursday’s anti-government protests, with thousands of security personnel deployed and roadblocks set up.

The march was called by opposition politician Imran Khan who wants PM Nawaz Sharif to resign for failing to probe fraud in last year’s polls.
Anti-government cleric Tahirul Qadri also called on supporters to rally, leading to fears of clashes.
The government accuses the protesters of trying to derail democracy.
But it also announced a Supreme Court commission to investigate allegations of rigging in the 2013 poll.
This was dismissed by Imran Khan, who vowed to press ahead with the march from Lahore to Islamabad saying that only Mr Sharif’s resignation would stop the rally now.
Mobile phones jammed
Tens of thousands of security personnel have been deployed in the capital Islamabad and in cities across Punjab province.
Roadblocks have also been placed on all major entry and exit points to the cities. The mobile phone network has also been partially suspended.
Representatives of Mr Khan’s Tehreek-e-Insaaf party (PTI) have also complained of workers being detained.
Containers have been used to block key roads into Islamabad
The BBC’s M Ilyas Khan in Islamabad says that many fear clashes between police and Tahirul Qadri’s followers, who will be holding their own “revolution march” in Islamabad.
Marchers in both camps are angry about the sinking economy, the uncontrolled growth of militancy, and core services such as the electricity supply which has nearly ground to a halt.
Tahirul Qadri returns to Pakistan at a time of renewed tension between the military and the governmentImran Khan (L) and Tahirul Qadri (R) are threatening to mobilise angry supporters on Thursday
In a country with a history of military coups, everyone fears that violence beyond a certain point may force the hand of even a reluctant army to intervene, our correspondent adds.
Last week at least six people were killed in Punjab province in clashes between police and supporters of Mr Qadri.
Mr Qadri, who until recently was based in Canada, returned to Pakistan in June and is one of Pakistan’s most prominent political and religious figures.
He leads the Pakistan Awami Tehreek (PAT) party and has condemned the government of Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif as corrupt.
He says he plans to lead a peaceful revolt against Mr Sharif, who he says has failed to solve basic problems such as unemployment and frequent electricity outages.
Mr Qadri has called for a military-backed government to take over from Mr Sharif, but has denied being supported by the army.
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