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.

News
Russia Today’s new UK channel began broadcasting yesterday. Discussions so far have included why Britons see Russia as ‘the bad guy’
news

New UK station Russia Today gives a very bizarre view of Britain

News
people
News
people
Voices
Left: An illustration of the original Jim Crowe, played by TD Rice Right: A Couple dressed as Ray and Janay Rice
voices

By performing as African Americans or Indians, white people get to play act a kind of 'imaginary liberation', writes Michael Mark Cohen

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
News
i100
Arts and Entertainment
Hand out press photograph/film still from the movie Mad Max Fury Road (Downloaded from the Warner Bro's media site/Jasin Boland/© 2014 Warner Bros. Entertainment Inc.)
films'You have to try everything and it’s all a process of elimination, but ultimately you find your path'
Arts and Entertainment
Imelda Staunton as Dolores Umbridge in the Harry Potter films
books

New essay by JK Rowling went live on Pottermore site this morning

News
people

Top Gear presenter is no stranger to foot-in-mouth controversy

Arts and Entertainment
Keira Knightley and Benedict Cumberbatch at the premiere of The Imitation Game at the BFI London Film Festival
filmsKeira Knightley tried to miss The Imitation Game premiere to watch Bake Off
News
i100
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

Mobile Developer (.NET / C# / Jason / Jquery / SOA)

£40000 - £65000 per annum + bonus + benefits + OT: Ampersand Consulting LLP: M...

Humanities Teacher - Greater Manchester

£22800 - £33600 per annum: Randstad Education Manchester Secondary: The JobAt ...

Design Technology Teacher

£22800 - £33600 per annum: Randstad Education Manchester Secondary: Calling al...

Foundation Teacher

£100 - £125 per day: Randstad Education Chelmsford: EYFS Teachers - East Essex...

Day In a Page

The drugs revolution starts now as MPs agree its high time for change

The drugs revolution starts now as MPs agree its high time for change

Commons debate highlights growing cross-party consensus on softening UK drugs legislation, unchanged for 43 years
The camera is turned on tabloid editors in Richard Peppiatt's 'One Rogue Reporter'

Gotcha! The camera is turned on tabloid editors

Hugh Grant says Richard Peppiatt's 'One Rogue Reporter' documentary will highlight issues raised by Leveson
Fall of the Berlin Wall: It was thanks to Mikhail Gorbachev that this symbol of division fell

Fall of the Berlin Wall

It was thanks to Gorbachev that this symbol of division fell
Halloween 2014: What makes Ouija boards, demon dolls, and evil clowns so frightening?

What makes ouija boards and demon dolls scary?

Ouija boards, demon dolls, evil children and clowns are all classic tropes of horror, and this year’s Halloween releases feature them all. What makes them so frightening, decade after decade?
A safari in modern Britain: Rose Rouse reveals how her four-year tour of Harlesden taught her as much about the UK as it did about NW10

Rose Rouse's safari in modern Britain

Rouse decided to walk and talk with as many different people as possible in her neighbourhood of Harlesden and her experiences have been published in a new book
Welcome to my world of no smell and odd tastes: How a bike accident left one woman living with unwanted food mash-ups

'My world of no smell and odd tastes'

A head injury from a bicycle accident had the surprising effect of robbing Nell Frizzell of two of her senses

Matt Parker is proud of his square roots

The "stand-up mathematician" is using comedy nights to preach maths to big audiences
Paul Scholes column: Beating Manchester City is vital part of life at Manchester United. This is first major test for Luke Shaw, Angel Di Maria and Radamel Falcao – it’s not a game to lose

Paul Scholes column

Beating City is vital part of life at United. This is first major test for Shaw, Di Maria and Falcao – it’s not a game to lose
Frank Warren: Call me an old git, but I just can't see that there's a place for women’s boxing

Frank Warren column

Call me an old git, but I just can't see that there's a place for women’s boxing
Adrian Heath interview: Former Everton striker prepares his Orlando City side for the MLS - and having Kaka in the dressing room

Adrian Heath's American dream...

Former Everton striker prepares his Orlando City side for the MLS - and having Kaka in the dressing room
Simon Hart: Manchester City will rise again but they need to change their attitude

Manchester City will rise again but they need to change their attitude

Manuel Pellegrini’s side are too good to fail and derby allows them to start again, says Simon Hart
Isis in Syria: A general reveals the lack of communication with the US - and his country's awkward relationship with their allies-by-default

A Syrian general speaks

A senior officer of Bashar al-Assad’s regime talks to Robert Fisk about his army’s brutal struggle with Isis, in a dirty war whose challenges include widespread atrocities
‘A bit of a shock...’ Cambridge economist with Glasgow roots becomes Zambia’s acting President

‘A bit of a shock...’ Economist with Glasgow roots becomes Zambia’s acting President

Guy Scott's predecessor, Michael Sata, died in a London hospital this week after a lengthy illness
Fall of the Berlin Wall: History catches up with Erich Honecker - the East German leader who praised the Iron Curtain and claimed it prevented a Third World War

Fall of the Berlin Wall

History catches up with Erich Honecker - the East German leader who praised the Iron Curtain and claimed it prevented a Third World War
How to turn your mobile phone into easy money

Turn your mobile phone into easy money

There are 90 million unused mobiles in the UK, which would be worth £7bn if we cashed them in, says David Crookes