Pak: Protesters threaten to invade Red Zone

RSTV Bureau

Pakistan opposition leader Imran Khan warned the PML-N government on Sunday that thousands of his supporters could enter the high-security Red Zone if Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif refuses to quit, as popular cleric Tahir-ul Qadri issued a 48-hour ultimatum demanding the same.

Both Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf Chairman Khan and Pakistan Awami Tehreek Chief Qadri started separate rallies from Lahore on Thursday and reached in the national capital of Pakistan after more than 35 hours. They were camping at different venues.

Khan warned that unless their demands are not met within a certain time period, his ‘tsunami’ would cross into the Red Zone and protest in front of Parliament.

“Don’t blame me if I failed to control these people (from entering high security area). I can control them until Sunday night,” he said.

On the other hand, Qadri presented a list of 14 demands in which he demanded that the Sharif government resign and the (provincial) assemblies are dissolved “within 48 hours”.

Khan is protesting against alleged rigging of last year polls while Qadri had announced to bring a revolution in the country.

Their demands invited strong criticism from PML-N government, with Information minister Pervaiz Rashid saying “They (Khan and Qadri) are giving deadline to democracy in the country and not the government.”

He said both Khan and Qadri were allowed to go ahead with protests march after clear understanding to the government that they will respect the Red Zone where key offices and diplomatic missions are located.

There are also reports that government was planning to shift the venue of Khan’s protest which is a few hundreds meter away from the Red Zone.

The government has so far followed the policy of “let the archers and their leaders exhaust themselves”.

Sharif does not have immediate fears from them as both Khan and Qadri failed to pull expected number of people. There were continually lashed by the monsoon rains for last two day.

But today the sun is shining with full force, creating further problems as they are sitting under open sky.

Sharif is relived as there is no obstruction in the government functioning as the entire country has turned normal after removal of roadblocks initially placed to stop the protesters.

It is believed that resignation option is already off the table but the political leaders will offer concessions like reforming the electoral and political system to make it more representative.