South Asia

Qadri, Imran lead anti-government protests

Children enjoy playing in an empty main road, after being blocked by the Pakistani police with shipping containers, on the outskirts of Islamabad, Pakistan on Thursday.

Children enjoy playing in an empty main road, after being blocked by the Pakistani police with shipping containers, on the outskirts of Islamabad, Pakistan on Thursday.  

Thousands of protesters, demanding the ouster of Pakistan Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif over alleged vote rigging, on Thursday began their march to the capital from Lahore, deepening fears of political instability and army’s intervention in the coup-prone country.

On a day Pakistan celebrated its Independence Day, two anti-government groups, encouraged by a last-minute court verdict allowing peaceful demonstrations, set off on a 370-km journey to the country’s capital, which has been turned into a fortress, with the army guarding key government installations.

Led by cricketer-turned-politician Imran Khan and Canada-based cleric Tahir-ul-Qadri, the two groups of agitators, planned to converge on Islamabad to press Mr. Sharif to call an early election little over a year after his landslide victory in the polls.

Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) leader Khan initiated his ‘Azadi March’ from Zaman Park, Lahore, while Mr. Qadri launched his ‘Inqelab March’ from the Model Town area of the city. Both of them, though not officially allied, are calling for the ouster of the government that they condemn as corrupt.

Mr. Khan’s protestors, including women and children, carrying sleeping mats and food, were first to leave from his residence as government removed roadblocks, allowing the demonstrators to hold a “peaceful march“.

Both marches were initially banned but late on Wednesday the government said Mr. Khan’s march could go ahead. After some hesitation, the government also allowed the supporters of Qadri to leave Model Town area of Lahore.







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Printable version | Apr 6, 2020 5:12:53 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/international/south-asia/thousand-of-pakistani-opposition-supporters-join-a-large-convoy-headed-by-imran-khan-to-islamabad/article6317726.ece

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