Cleric asks supporters to lay siege to Pakistani parliament
A religious leader leading anti-government protesters in Pakistan's capital city Wednesday ordered them to lay siege to parliament, even as he called for "the sanctity of the national assembly to be maintained," a Pakistani daily reported.
Pakistan Awami Tehreek (PAT) chief Tahirul Qadri said that he allowed legislators to enter the parliament building so that "all the prey was gathered at one spot," The Dawn quoted him as saying in a speech to his supporters.
"I cannot let the elderly and sick remain in agony. I cannot control my people for long. If too much control is exerted then my supporters will turn against me," he said as he warned the government against the pent-up anger of the people.
Qadri, however, asked his supporters not to resort to vandalism or violence. "We shall remain peaceful and state institutions would not be harmed. They are our installations, our war is not with the buildings rather with those illegally occupying these buildings."
The PAT chief said that any person found guilty of attacking army personnel would have no association with him or his party.
"Shout pro-army slogans when you come face to face with army personnel," Qadri instructed his supporters.
The cleric ordered his followers not to let any one enter or exit the parliament premises and said that the parliamentarians would only be allowed to leave over their dead bodies.
Earlier, thousands of activists of Imran Khan-led Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf and Pakistan Awami Tehreek forced their way to reach the parliament building demanding the resignation of Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif.
Khan claims that the 2013 elections were rigged and that Sharif has a "fake mandate". He has demanded that fresh elections be held.
The protesters removed all hurdles to reach the "Red Zone" in the capital city that houses diplomatic missions and other important buildings including the prime minister's house.
The Pakistan Army has called for dialogue to resolve the current political crisis in the country.
The current "situation requires patience, wisdom and sagacity from all stakeholders," Xinhua quoted military spokesperson Major General Asim Bajwa as saying Wednesday. He called for "meaningful dialogue in larger national and public interest to resolve the prevailing impasse".
Bajwa said the buildings in the "Red Zone" are symbols of the state and are being protected by the army and "therefore sanctity of these national symbols must be respected."
The army has been entrusted with the responsibility of securing Islamabad's sensitive Red Zone area.
(Posted on 20-08-2014)
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