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Pakistan opposition leader calls for civil disobedience

Imran Khan moves to oust 'corrupt' PM Sharif

Pakistan opposition leader calls for civil disobedience

Supporters of opposition leader Imran Khan. File picture: Naiyyer/ reporter, Islamabad

August 18, 2014

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Pakistan’s main opposition leader Imran Khan launched a civil disobedience movement on Sunday to mount pressure on Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif to step down.

“I am appealing to my supporters and fellow Pakistanis not to pay taxes, gas and electricity bills until the Nawaz Sharif government is dislodged,” Khan told thousands of anti-government protesters who have been staging a sit-in in the capital Islamabad since Friday.

“This is the only way to get rid of this corrupt and fake government,” Khan said. “There is no other legal way left to remove Nawaz Sharif, as he buys everyone.”

The cricketer-turned-politician gave Sharif 48 hours to resign. “If our demands are not met in two days, I will not be able to stop my workers from entering the Red Zone,” he threatened, referring to the area that contains Parliament House, the Prime Minister’s house and other key state buildings.

“We don’t want to spread anarchy [so we] appeal to Sharif to stand down.”

Khan’s address came a day after Tahirul Qadri, a Canada-based moderate cleric, issued a similar 48-hour ultimatum, set to expire on Monday.

Like Khan, Qadri led tens of thousands of his supporters and religious followers from the eastern city of Lahore to Islamabad.

Qadri argues that the present system of governance is rotten. “No change is possible in Pakistan without bringing about a peaceful, democratic and green revolution,” Qadri told his supporters.

Interior Minister Chaudhry Nisar Ali announced on Sunday that the government would open talks with Khan and Qadri to end the standoff on Monday.

“Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif has decided to constitute two separate committees to meet Khan and Qadri and listen to their demands,” Ali said. He, however, ruled out the resignation of the prime minister.

Analysts have warned that the military may have to intervene if the impasse persists.

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