Islamabad at standstill ahead of anti-government protests

Photo: Islamabad at standstill ahead of anti-government protests / Politics

Authorities have virtually brought Pakistan's capital Islamabad to a standstill to block a planned anti-government march on the arrival of a Canada-based opposition leader, Dr Tahir-ul-Qadri, who announced that he is coming for a "revolution", Anadolu agency reported.

The police have blocked all roads leading to Islamabad airport where Dr Qadri, a religious leader and the chairman of the Pakistan Awami Tehreek, is scheduled to land Monday to lead a march on northeastern Lahore city where eleven of his supporters were killed and nearly 100 injured in bloody clashes with police during a protest over the removal of barricades around the party headquarters.

Interior Minister Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan quoting intelligence reports, told reporters that Dr Qadri could be in danger of a terrorist attack during his march from Islamabad airport to Lahore, and therefore, the event is not permitted to take place. However, Qadri's defiant supporters, who have already left from different cities for Islamabad, are heading to the airport to greet their leader regardless of the consequences.

Qadri, who claims that the current democratic system has failed to deliver, considers a "revolution" the only panacea to the country's predicament. He accuses the government for hundreds of his Pakistan Awami Tehreek workers of being rounded up in different cities.

Dr Qadri, a controversial religious figure, left Pakistan in 2005 after resigning from parliament and settled in Canada. He holds Pakistani and Canadian dual nationality.

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