Wednesday Mar 30, 2016

Protesters violate government deadline as sit-in enters fourth day

Protesters violate government deadline as sit-in enters fourth day

ISLAMABAD/KARACHI: The sit-in at Islamabad entered its fourth day on Wednesday as protesters violated a deadline given by the government to vacate the Red Zone by midnight.

A delegation representing the government negotiated with the protesters all night long.  At four in the morning, a satisfied Professor Ashraf Jilani, who represented the protesters, told media that many of their demands were being considered by the government.

Sources said a breakthrough in negotiations is expected later this evening.

Several rounds of talks between the government and protesters have taken place since yesterday. In the first round of talks the administration and cleric Ovais Noorani met Ijaz Qadri and Professor Ashraf at Punjab House.

A second round of talks was held at federal minister Khwaja Saad Rafique’s residence.

The government wants protesters to disperse without it having to use violence.

Meanwhile in Karachi, supporters in solidarity with the Islamabad protest have staged a sit-in at Numaish Chowrangi, blocking the flow of traffic through MA Jinnah Road for three days now.

On Tuesday, Federal Interior Minister Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan said that if protesters at D-Chowk in front of the Parliament building did not disperse by midnight then the sensitive Red-Zone area of the federal capital would be evacuated 'peacefully' by Wednesday.

Speaking at a press conference here, he said some people were found involved in damaging government installations and inflicting injuries to the security officials. “We want to evacuate D-Chowk area in presence of the media peacefully [on Wednesday].”

Meanwhile, mobile phone services remained blocked for a fourth day in Islamabad today as hundreds of activists belonging to various religious groups continued to protest the execution of Mumtaz Qadri, who killed former Punjab governor Salman Taseer.

The government had on Monday registered an FIR against Sarwat Qadri, Khadim Hussain, Afzal Qadri and Dr Ashraf.

The cases have been registered at the I-9, Secretariat and Kohsar police stations. Charges against them include violating the Loud Speaker Act, vandalizing public property, instigating hate against the government and violating section 144 at the Red Zone.