Pakistan PM Nawaz Sharif convenes parliament after three die in protests against him in weekend of violence

The clashes left at least three dead and hundreds injured

Pakistan’s Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif has said he will call a parliamentary session on Tuesday over mass protests in Islamabad, after clashes in the capital that left three people dead and hundreds injured.

The head of Pakistan’s armed forces met senior commanders on Sunday night, with news of the meeting sparking speculation the military was taking a more central role in the stand-off between protesters and the government that has seen parts of Islamabad brought to a halt for two and a half weeks. But in a brief statement, the army said the crisis had to be solved politically and that “further use of force will only aggravate the problem”.

Protesters clashed with police over the weekend, as the demonstrators tried to march on the Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif’s official residence. Police responded by firing tear gas and hitting protesters will bamboo sticks.

Officials confirmed that three people had been killed and hundreds needed treatment.

Mr Sharif, following a meeting with advisers, issued a statement on Sunday stating he would convene a joint session of parliament.

The 20,000 or so demonstrators who have besieged Islamabad are part of two different protest groups. One is led by cricketer-turned-politician Imran Khan, who has claimed last year’s election which Mr Sharif won handsomely was rigged. The other group is lead by a Muslim cleric who usually lives in Canada, Tahir ul-Qadri, who also claims Mr Sharif is corrupt.

 

Both groups have said they will not leave until the government stands down and have urged their supporters at their protest camps to stand firm.

 

“I am prepared to die here. I have learnt that government plans a major crackdown against us tonight,” Mr Khan said on Sunday evening, according to the Reuters news agency. “I am here till my last breath. The way you stood up last night, you have to stand up today also. We will face them and make them run away this time.”

The protesters have been holding noisy demonstrations since they assembled in Islamabad in August. Mr Sharif’s government initially sought to avoid triggering violence by allowing the protesters to make their way to the very heart of the city where they have been camping out next to government offices.

But when the protesters tried on Saturday evening to make their way to the Prime Minister’s house, police used tear gas and batons to repel them. Many protesters were also armed with sticks and sling shots. Medical officials confirmed that three people had been killed and up to 200 required treatment, most of them having inhaled tear gas.

Mr Sharif was elected to his third term as Prime Minister in an general election held in May 2013, with Mr Khan’s Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) party coming second in many major cities. Mr Khan accepted the results of the election but called for a probe into alleged vote rigging.

He launched his so-called freedom protest after claiming the government and the election commission had failed to follow up on its agreement to launch an inquiry.

While Mr Khan claims his supporters are acting within their constitutional rights, he has also faced criticism and accusations from Mr Sharif and others that he has allowed his ego to put himself before what is good for the country.

On Sunday, Mr Khan also faced claims from his own senior party members that he had allowed the protesters to go too far. Veteran Pakistani politician Javed Hashmi claimed the party had agreed protesters would not march on the Prime Minister’s house but that Mr Khan had overturned that decision.

“No distance has been left between martial law and us,” said Mr Hashmi, who said he could not support the protesters marching to the Prime Minister’s home.

He claimed that Mr Khan had made the decision after another senior PTI member, Shaikh Raheed, “brought a message [from] someone”.

Mr Sharif has insisted he will not stand down and has accepted the protesters’ demands for a court-appointed inquiry of a number of disputed constituencies.

Yet the protesters have certainly triggered a major crisis for him. Mr Sharif, who was ousted in a military coup in 1999, has long had a difficult relationship with the military. That has not been helped by his decision to allow the prosecution of former army chief Pervez Musharraf – the man who ousted him 15 years ago – to proceed.

The move to charge Mr Musharraf with treason has displeased many within the military and created antagonism between the senior command of the armed forces and the civilian government.

Last week, it was announced that Gen Sharif – no relation to the Prime Minister – had been asked to play a “facilitative role” to try and end the stand-off. Analysts say while the army may not be planning a coup, its taking off a more central role in political events could weaken the civilian government.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA special investigation by Andy McSmith
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Tradewind Recruitment: SEN Teacher

Negotiable: Tradewind Recruitment: SEN Teacher We have a fantastic special n...

Tradewind Recruitment: History Teacher

Negotiable: Tradewind Recruitment: My client is an 11-18 all ability co-educat...

Tradewind Recruitment: Year 6 Teacher

£100 - £150 per day: Tradewind Recruitment: Year 6 Teacher Birmingham Jan 2015...

Recruitment Genius: Transport Administrator / Planner

£20000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This fast growing reinforcing s...

Day In a Page

Isis hostage crisis: The prisoner swap has only one purpose for the militants - recognition its Islamic State exists and that foreign nations acknowledge its power

Isis hostage crisis

The prisoner swap has only one purpose for the militants - recognition its Islamic State exists and that foreign nations acknowledge its power, says Robert Fisk
Missing salvage expert who found $50m of sunken treasure before disappearing, tracked down at last

The runaway buccaneers and the ship full of gold

Salvage expert Tommy Thompson found sunken treasure worth millions. Then he vanished... until now
Homeless Veterans appeal: ‘If you’re hard on the world you are hard on yourself’

Homeless Veterans appeal: ‘If you’re hard on the world you are hard on yourself’

Maverick artist Grayson Perry backs our campaign
Assisted Dying Bill: I want to be able to decide about my own death - I want to have control of my life

Assisted Dying Bill: 'I want control of my life'

This week the Assisted Dying Bill is debated in the Lords. Virginia Ironside, who has already made plans for her own self-deliverance, argues that it's time we allowed people a humane, compassionate death
Move over, kale - cabbage is the new rising star

Cabbage is king again

Sophie Morris banishes thoughts of soggy school dinners and turns over a new leaf
11 best winter skin treats

Give your moisturiser a helping hand: 11 best winter skin treats

Get an extra boost of nourishment from one of these hard-working products
Paul Scholes column: The more Jose Mourinho attempts to influence match officials, the more they are likely to ignore him

Paul Scholes column

The more Jose Mourinho attempts to influence match officials, the more they are likely to ignore him
Frank Warren column: No cigar, but pots of money: here come the Cubans

Frank Warren's Ringside

No cigar, but pots of money: here come the Cubans
Isis hostage crisis: Militant group stands strong as its numerous enemies fail to find a common plan to defeat it

Isis stands strong as its numerous enemies fail to find a common plan to defeat it

The jihadis are being squeezed militarily and economically, but there is no sign of an implosion, says Patrick Cockburn
Virtual reality thrusts viewers into the frontline of global events - and puts film-goers at the heart of the action

Virtual reality: Seeing is believing

Virtual reality thrusts viewers into the frontline of global events - and puts film-goers at the heart of the action
Homeless Veterans appeal: MP says Coalition ‘not doing enough’

Homeless Veterans appeal

MP says Coalition ‘not doing enough’ to help
Larry David, Steve Coogan and other comedians share stories of depression in new documentary

Comedians share stories of depression

The director of the new documentary, Kevin Pollak, tells Jessica Barrett how he got them to talk
Has The Archers lost the plot with it's spicy storylines?

Has The Archers lost the plot?

A growing number of listeners are voicing their discontent over the rural soap's spicy storylines; so loudly that even the BBC's director-general seems worried, says Simon Kelner
English Heritage adds 14 post-war office buildings to its protected lists

14 office buildings added to protected lists

Christopher Beanland explores the underrated appeal of these palaces of pen-pushing
Human skull discovery in Israel proves humans lived side-by-side with Neanderthals

Human skull discovery in Israel proves humans lived side-by-side with Neanderthals

Scientists unearthed the cranial fragments from Manot Cave in West Galilee