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Pakistani Capital Protests Escalate into National Crisis

After Sunday, Pakistan’s peaceful protests against the resignation of Pakistan Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif in Islamabad had turned into a national crisis. The main road that linked Iraqi Parliament to different government buildings in central Islamabad appeared war torn after paramilitary and police forces clashed with civilian protesters under the command of Cleric Tahir-ul-Qadri and Opposition Politician Imran Khan.

The Pakistani Military had called for calm amid protesters and had encouraged rival politicians to resolve their differences to avoid any more upheaval. According to the military’s statement, “further use of force will only make the situation problematic.”

Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif rose to power through a landslide election a year and three months ago. Imran Khan is calling out Sharif to resign because of election fraud during that time, while Qadri is calling Sharif to create a unified government. According to Sharif, it is an unacceptable and unconstitutional request.

On Saturday evening, under their orders, protesters stormed the police lines of Islamabad’s “red zone”, housing the Parliament, Supreme Court and diplomatic missions. Protesters halted their advance after army forces inside buildings issued warnings. The Pakistani military said that the structures of government represented order in the country and must be preserved.

Sharif has called a joint session of the lower and upper houses of Parliament to find a solution to the crisis.

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