Pakistan, Islamabad News : The federal capital braced for political unrest Thursday as two opposition leaders vowed to defy a court order and march on the city for a major protest aimed at bringing down the government.
Cricketer-turned-politician Imran Khan and populist preacher Tahir-ul-Qadri plan to lead thousands of supporters into Islamabad over allegations of rigging in last year’s general election.
Authorities have taken significant measures to try to thwart the planned protest marches, which are due to depart from Lahore this morning.
More than 20,000 police and security forces have been deployed around Islamabad and almost all roads into the city have been blocked by the authorities with barbed wire and shipping containers.
Late on Wednesday the Lahore High Court barred Khan and Qadri’s movements from marching on the capital “in an unconstitutional way”.
Interior minister Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan said the court order would be “fully implemented”, saying any group who wanted to hold a demonstration had to get permission from the authorities.
But both Khan and Qadri said they would press on with their marches, warning the government would be “solely responsible” if violence occurred.
On Monday Qadri told AFP he wanted an “interim national government” consisting of technocrats and experts.
Sharif attempted to defuse some of the tension with a television address on Tuesday evening in which he announced a Supreme Court probe into vote-rigging allegations.
But the proposal was almost immediately rejected by Khan, the chief of country’s third largest party, Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) and has called the 2013 election the most fraudulent in the country’s history. AFP