New Islamabad police chief ordered to tackle anti-govt marchers

Policemen stand guard against supporters of Mohammad Tahir ul-Qadri, Sufi cleric and leader of political party Pakistan Awami Tehreek, during the Revolution March to the parliament house in Islamabad on Wednesday.

Policemen stand guard against supporters of Mohammad Tahir ul-Qadri, Sufi cleric and leader of political party Pakistan Awami Tehreek, during the Revolution March to the parliament house in Islamabad on Wednesday.

ISLAMABAD: Chairman of Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) Imran Khan told his supporters on Thursday that the government had removed the Islamabad police chief for not using force against him, and warned the new police chief Khalid Khattak not to follow orders to crack down against the protesters.

The government denied it had any plans to confront the protesters.

Khan, a famed cricketer-turned-politician, and fiery cleric Tahirul Qadri have led massive protests from the eastern city of Lahore to the gates of Parliament in Islamabad to demand the resignation of Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, accusing him of rigging the vote that brought him to power last year.

The protests have raised fears of unrest in the nuclear-armed US ally with a history of political turmoil. Shah Mahmood Qureshi, a senior leader of Khan’s party, told reporters that the opposition presented six demands, including Sharif’s resignation.

The other demands include electoral reforms, setting up a caretaker government, removing top election officials and accountability for anyone found to have rigged last year’s elections, which marked the first democratic transfer of power in Pakistan after a long history of coups and dictatorships.

It is unlikely Sharif would give ground on those demands, which the government considers illegal.

Cabinet Minister Ahsan Iqbal said government negotiators held initial talks with Khan’s party — the legislature’s third largest — before dawn Thursday.

“We again went to an agreed place today for more talks, but the team of Imran Khan did not turn up,” he said.

He added that the government wanted to find a “win-win solution.”

 
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