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Pakistan's anti-govt protests continue

August 22, 2014 14:25 IST

The anti-government protests in Pakistan entered the ninth day on Friday amidst serious differences between the negotiators and the protest leaders, who are demanding nothing less than Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif's resignation as a pre-condition for talks.

Sharif on Thursday said he would neither launch a crackdown on the mass protests nor quit while protest leaders -- Imran Khan and Canada-based cleric Tahir-ul Qadri -- have vowed to remain in the capital until the prime minister resigns.

The protests were launched last Thursday from Lahore and later marched to Islamabad where protesters entered into high security Red Zone that houses important government buildings including the Parliament House, Prime Minister House, President House, the Supreme Court besides embassies.

Since then thousands of supporters of Pakistan Tehreek-i- Insaf chairman Imran Khan and firebrand cleric Qadri have been demonstrating outside the parliament building in Islamabad.

In his overnight speech, Khan asked people to come in big numbers on Friday and promised a change of government by the weekend.

Qadri also said the end of government was not far away.

The protests at night have become quite a spectacle due to live music and the dances.

Khan's camp was entertained by rock star Salman Ahmad while Qadri arranged a live Qawali show for his audience. A large number of people enjoyed the live performance till late night.

Between the songs and music, the leaders continued to address the people, exhorting them to stay put till Sharif is removed.

Meanwhile, the government has expressed willingness to talk to the protest leaders but so far there is no positive response.

"We are ready to resolve their problems but for it they should talk to us," Development Minister Ahsan Iqbal said.

The National Assembly is meeting again on Friday to discuss the prevailing political situation.

Sharif enjoys support of 11 political parties as only Khan's Pakistan Thereek-e-Insaf is against him.

It is expected that Sharif will address the lawmakers on Friday and may announce some measures to deal with the protests that have paralyzed the capital.

Khan wants Sharif's ouster, while Pakistani Awami Tehreek chief Qadri wants to bring a revolution in Pakistan.

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