Clashes between police, long marchers
15 January, 2013
ISLAMABAD: Police fired tear gas at a growing crowd of protesters who converged on parliament Tuesday as gunshots were heard and some demonstrators threw stones at security forces near Kulsoom Plaza, our sources reported Tuesday.
The protesters are followers of Tahirul Qadri, who led a two-day protest march into the capital Islamabad overnight to demand a peaceful "revolution" and the dissolution of parliament.
Police sources told that someone from the crowd fired aerial shots after which the police fired tear gas. After the scuffle between police and protesters, the members of the Tehrik e Minhajul Quran secured their leader and surrounded him to protect him.
After the incident, Interior Minister Rehman Malik has instructed police and Rangers to provide security to Tahirul Qadri. He said that Qadri is their guest and it is the responsibility of the police to protect him.
Malik further said that the government is cooperating with Qadri and it does not want any unpleasant happening to occur.
Moreover, the Interior Minister has sought the firing report from the Chief Commissioner Islamabad.
It was not clear who fired the gunshots. Witnesses saw police fire tear gas shells at the crowd. Protesters were holding sticks and had pelted stones at police around 500 yards from parliament. The protesters also smashed the windowpanes of vehicles.
Qadri told his followers to camp out overnight in Islamabad, despite chilly temperatures and advance towards parliament.
He gave the elected government, whose five-year mandate ends in March, until 11:00 am (0600 GMT) to dissolve parliament.
"After that, the people's assembly here will take their own decision," he said, shouting and gesticulating from behind a bullet-proof box.
His demand for the military to have a say in a caretaker administration and for reforms has been seen by critics as a ploy by elements of the establishment, particularly the military, to delay elections and sow political chaos.
Qadri's followers dismantled a first barricade of shipping containers separating the initial venue of the protest from parliament and other sensitive buildings in the government and diplomatic enclave.
His supporters say his calls to end corruption and implement reforms could be the solution to endless problems in Pakistan, struggling with a weak economy, crippling energy crisis and Islamist violence.