[QODLink]
Central & South Asia

Pakistan's Khan quits talks with government

Opposition leader says decision came after new Islamabad police chief appointed for an expected crackdown on protests.

Last updated: 21 Aug 2014 20:08
Email Article
Print Article
Share article
Send Feedback
Thousands of Pakistani protesters entered Islamabad's 'Red Zone' on Tuesday [Reuters]

Pakistan opposition politician Imran Khan says he has suspended talks with the government after it appointed a new police chief in the capital Islamabad for an expected crackdown on anti-government protesters.

Thousands of Khan's supporters are besieging parliament for a second day on Thursday to press prime minister Nawaz Sharif to resign over alleged election fraud.

Protesters led by Khan, the leader of the opposition Tehreek-e-Insaaf party, and anti-government cleric Tahir ul-Qadri, tore down barricades late on Tuesday and entered the so-called Red Zone that houses key government buildings.

Their representatives held talks with the government early on Thursday after Pakistan's powerful army chief, general Rasheel Sharif, requested that Sharif's government negotiate with the protesters.

Khan's decision came after the country's national assembly rejected his and Qadri's demands, saying they were unconstitutional.

Most protesters on the streets of Islamabad say they are demonstrating against government corruption, which they blame for the country's widespread poverty.

Kamal Hyder, reporting from Islamabad, said that Khan accused the US of also interfering with the internal affairs of Pakistan. The US embassy in Islamabad said they were monitoring but were not interfering with what is going on.

He said that supporters of Sharif were starting to take to the streets in cities other than Islamabad. "It appears that this crisis may go beyond Islamabad. If the authorities do decide they want to remove the protesters, anything can happen. The next 24 hours are indeed critical," he said.

Khan wants Sharif to step down because he believes the prime minister rigged last year's polls.

Sharif won the election by a landslide, taking 190 out of 342 seats in the national assembly. International observers said the polls were free and fair.

The ballot was the first democratic transfer of power in Pakistan's history and also propelled Khan from a fringe player to head of the third-largest legislative bloc in the country.

Qadri, who controls a network of Islamic schools and hospitals, wants Sharif to step down because he says the system is corrupt.

He has promised free housing for the homeless, and welfare and subsidised food and electricity for the poor.

347

Source:
Al Jazeera and agencies
Email Article
Print Article
Share article
Send Feedback
Topics in this article
People
Country
City
Organisation
Featured on Al Jazeera
'Justice for All' demonstrations swell across the US over the deaths of African Americans in police encounters.
Six former Guantanamo detainees are now free in Uruguay with some hailing the decision to grant them asylum.
Disproportionately high number of Aboriginal people in prison highlights inequality and marginalisation, critics say.
Nearly half of Canadians have suffered inappropriate advances on the job - and the political arena is no exception.
Featured
Women's rights activists are demanding change after Hanna Lalango, 16, was gang-raped on a bus and left for dead.
Buried in Sweden's northern forest, Sorsele has welcomed many unaccompanied kids who help stabilise a town exodus.
A look at the changing face of North Korea, three years after the death of 'Dear Leader'.
While some fear a Muslim backlash after café killings, solidarity instead appears to be the order of the day.
Victims spared by the deadly disease are reporting blindness and other unexpected post-Ebola health issues.