Thousands of Demonstrators Gather in Islamabad

Posted January 14th, 2013 at 6:35 am (UTC-5)
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Thousands of Pakistanis are converging on the capital for a protest march led by a cleric who has called for political change.

Tahirul Qadri, who recently returned home from Canada, had promised to bring a million demonstrators to the streets of Islamabad Monday in his call for electoral reform, but early estimates say he will not reach that goal. Still, a huge crowd is gathering.

The cleric wants an interim government to root out graft and mismanagement blamed for chronic energy shortages, stunted growth, and allowing crime and a Taliban insurgency to flourish.

Thousands of security officers have been deployed in Islamabad to protect government and diplomatic areas as the protesters gather in the city.

The protest comes just after a three-day demonstration by Hazara Shi'ite in Quetta, capital of eastern Baluchistan province, protesting against one of the worst sectarian attacks in the country's history in which nearly 100 in their community were killed.

After thousands of Shi'ites sat in the roads by the bodies of their dead, the federal government finally gave in to one of the protesters' key demands and fired the provincial government.