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Rediff.com  » News » Pak protesters break barriers; target PM's residence, PTV, secretariat

Pak protesters break barriers; target PM's residence, PTV, secretariat

Last updated on: September 01, 2014 15:21 IST

Fresh clashes erupted on Monday morning between police and hundreds of anti-government protesters who forcibly entered the heavily-guarded Pakistan Secretariat in Islamabad after breaking its gate, hours after the powerful military asked all parties to peacefully resolve the political crisis.

After a brief calm due to overnight rain, the protesters armed with clubs and sticks on Monday morning broke the gate and entered the premises of the secretariat, defying calls from the army personnel not to enter inside the building.

Police fired rubber bullets and tear gas shells to push them back but remained unsuccessful. The protesters damaged vehicles of employees of the secretariat.

Latest reports indicated at protesters barging into national broadcaster Pakistan Television’s office, and disrupting services in the capital.

But soon enough, the army intervened and threw out Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf and Pakistan Awami Tehreek protesters.

Riaz Burki, Assignment Editor, PTV said "The protesters were protesting outside Pakistani national TV centre. Suddenly, I could not understand what happened that the charged protesters crossed the main gate of the PTV centre and in no time they just broke the main gate and entered... They broke glasses, security cameras."

"First they went upstairs, they stopped the transmission. After that, they came down to the first floor where they entered the main channel newsroom, the Urdu PTV news...they took the whole staff hostage for more than an hour." he said.

Managing Director of PTV News Mohammad Malik, talking to TV channel, said cameras worth hundreds of thousands of rupees were stolen from the headquarters, and protesters also damaged cables inside the office.

Khan immediately denied that his party men were part of the protesters that had stormed the TV station.

"Whoever has entered the PTV headquarters are not our workers. I have not told any worker to proceed towards PM House or enter any building," the PTI chief said.

Ironically, the protesters who stormed the PTV building were chanting slogans in favour of the Pakistan Army.

A large group of protestors also laid siege near Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif’s residence.

The fresh clashes came hours after an emergency meeting of army corps commanders last night who expressed serious concern over the prevailing political turmoil in the country with the government of embattled Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif locked in a showdown with Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf chairman Imran Khan and Pakistan Awami Tehreek chief Tahir-ul Qadiri.

The generals, who have ruled Pakistan for more than half of its history since independence from Britain in 1947, said that the "situation should be resolved politically without wasting any time and without recourse to violent means".

The last 48 hours saw the anti-government protests morph the high-security Red Zone from a concert ground to a bloody battlefield, with three people killed and over 550 injured.

Thousands of supporters of Khan and Qadri are battling with the police since Saturday night to reach in front of the PM House, the official residence of Prime Minister Sharif.

The clashes started when both Khan and Qadri asked their followers, camping in front of the parliament house, to shift the venue of protest to lawns of PM House on Saturday night.

The protesters fought pitch battles with the police until the heavily shower forced them to halt pelting stones at them last night. After the rain stopped, the protesters this morning resumed clashes. 

Dozens of policemen have been injured in the clashes.

The News reported that a case has been registered against Khan for inciting violence and encouraging attack at the security forces and the parliament, a charge denied by him.

Khan and Qadri have snapped communications with the official negotiators after the fifth round of talks failed to produce any result last week.

Khan wants the PML-N government's ouster over alleged rigging in last year's poll which his party lost, while Qadri wants to bring a revolution in the country. Both leaders are agitating since August 14.

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