Tahir-ul-Qadri leads huge demonstration in Pakistan third day in row, issues midnight deadline to govt

Qadri

Thousands of protesters led by Canada-returned cleric Tahir-ul- Qadri, rallied in Islamabad for the third day in a row today, giving the government time till tonight to quit and dissolve the national and provincial assemblies to pave the way for electoral reforms.

Qadri , who marched into Islamabad with his supporters on Monday and began a protest near parliament, outlined four demands during his speech this afternoon, including electoral reforms according to the Constitution before polls and reconstitution of the Election Commission.

He said there should be no secret compromise between the ruling Pakistan People's Party and main opposition PML-N on forming a caretaker government to oversee the next general election and the immediate dissolution of the national and provincial assemblies.

"The government should decide by tonight (on these demands)," said Qadri, the head of the Tehrik Minhaj-ul-Quran who returned to Pakistan last month after living in Canada for the past seven years.

"This so-called democratic government will end today or tomorrow, God willing...Now we can't accept corruption anymore in this country. We want true democracy," he said.

In a rambling three-hour speech loaded with religious imagery, Qadri repeatedly attacked politicians of both the ruling and opposition parties.

At one stage, he urged his supporters to be ready to disrobe corrupt leaders and expose their "tattoos".

He incited officials to defy the government, saying it would be removed in a day or two.

Qadri 's protest received a shot in arm yesterday, when the Supreme Court issued an order to arrest Prime Minister Raja Pervez Ashraf over graft charges linked to power projects just as the cleric was making a fiery speech against "corrupt and incompetent" politicians.

During his speech today, Qadri said the government and the premier had lost their moral authority after the Supreme Court's order to arrest Ashraf and could not be allowed to continue.

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