Share This Page

Fate of anti-government protest lies in Pakistani military's hands

| Thursday, Aug. 28, 2014, 6:12 p.m.
REUTERS
Imran Khan, the chairman of the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf political party, addresses supporters in front of the Parliament house building in Islamabad on Thursday.

ISLAMABAD — Pakistan's army stepped into a political struggle between the country's embattled prime minister and the opposition on Thursday, signaling a possible end to a crisis that has destabilized the coup-prone nation.

Pakistan has been gripped by mass rallies for more than two weeks, with protesters led by cricketer-turned-politician Imran Khan and firebrand cleric Tahir-ul-Qadri camped outside parliament demanding that Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif resign.

Attempts to resolve the crisis through talks have failed, leading to a deadlock and raising the specter of violence as thousands of increasingly impatient activists, some armed with sticks, massed in the heart of Islamabad despite intense heat.

Addressing the roaring crowd late at night, Qadri said the army had offered to mediate in the standoff, a proposal he immediately endorsed.

“The army chief has asked us to give him 24 hours to solve the crisis,” he told thousands of flag-waving supporters. Khan, speaking shortly after him, echoed his remarks.

“The army will compile and put together a package of our demands and make sure they are implemented,” Qadri added.

The army's press wing tweeted that the army chief, Gen. Raheel Sharif, would meet both opposition leaders late Thursday. No other official comment was immediately available.

Some officials in Sharif's administration have accused the army of orchestrating the protests as a way to weaken the prime minister, and many believe the fate of the anti-government movement ultimately lies in the military's hands.

Pakistan, a nuclear-armed nation of 180 million, has been ruled by the military for half of its entire history and has repeatedly swung between democracy and military.

TribLIVE commenting policy

You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.

We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.

While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.

We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers

We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.

We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.

We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.

We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.