With support on the wane, Tahir-ul-Qadri sets last deadline to Pak govt

Tahir Qadri

Cleric Tahir-ul-Qadri today gave the Pakistan government a 90-minute deadline to act on his demands to quit and dissolve the national and provincial assemblies amidst increasing signs that support for his protest was dwindling.

"I am giving the government a deadline of one-and-half hours. You don't have any more time. The deadline will end at 3 pm, when I will announce my next action," Qadri told thousands of his supporters camping on Jinnah Avenue, Islamabad's main boulevard near the presidency and parliament.

"People should come out to save democracy, Constitution and law and for the poor people's right. At 3 pm, I will announce the final action," he said.

Qadri gave no indication of what he intended to do if he government failed to meet his deadline.

"There will be no protest or sit-in tomorrow. We have to finish it by the end of this day. I am giving talks, peace and democracy a final chance," he said.

Qadri demanded that President Asif Ali Zardari should respond to his offer of talks.

The cleric, who heads the Minhaj-ul-Quran organisation, and his followers have been staging a sit-in near parliament since Tuesday.

Since he marched from Lahore to Islamabad with his supporters, Qadri set several deadlines for action on his demands that have been consistently ignored by the government.

As he delivered his speech today, media commentators noted that Qadri was speaking from inside his bulletproof and heated container while his supporters stood outside in pouring rain, braving the bitter cold of winter.

Over the past two days, there has been considerable criticism of Qadri in the media and social networking websites for bringing scores of women and children for the protest in Islamabad.

Many of the protestors have been sitting out in the cold and sleeping in the open.

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