Pak protesters vow to stay in streets till Sharif resigns

Demand fresh election

17 August 2014 BBC Online


Thousands of protesters have gathered in Pakistan's capital Islamabad after arriving in big convoys from Lahore.Rally leaders Imran Khan and Tahirul Qadri demanded that Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif step down, alleging rigging in the 2013 elections. Qadri, an anti-government cleric, told his supporters in a midday speech to continue protesting until they bring a "peaceful revolution".Last year's election saw the first civilian government transfer of power.There was tight security in Islamabad as the protesters arrived in poor weather by truck, jeeps and cars after travelling the 350km (218 miles) from Lahore to Islamabad.Cricketer-turned politician Imran Khan and cleric Tahirul Qadri, who have separate groups of supporters, have vowed to together bring one million followers on to the streets of the city.Khan, who heads the opposition Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaaf party, said that the government was illegitimate, citing fraud and a failure to organise a probe into the elections.He called for new elections, vowing to continue a sit-in until Sharif resigns.Police estimated the crowd was 60,000 strong.A senior leader of Sharif's ruling Pakistan Muslim League party announced that the government was ready to investigate the allegations of fraud from last year's elections, but said that Sharif would not be removed through a rally.The government says the protesters are trying to derail democracy. The prime minister's spokesman Pervaiz Rashid condemned the "irresponsible behaviour and actions" of his opponents.Khan's and cleric Tahirul Qadri's supporters are angry about the sinking economy, growing militancy, and failure to deliver core services such as a steady electricity supply.

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