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Three killed, 450 injured in clashes, Pak govt reaches out to protesters

Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf leader Imran Khan, who was in the middle of the shelling, vowed to take the fight to the PM house. 'Today will be decisive,' he said, calling for Nawaz Sharif's resignation.

world Updated: Aug 31, 2014 18:00 IST
Imtiaz Ahmad
Imtiaz Ahmad
Hindustan Times
Pakistan protests,Nawaz Sharif,Imran Khan

After a night of chaos in which three persons were killed and more than 450 injured in clashes with police, anti-government protesters in Pakistan made their way to the prime minister’s office once again on Sunday morning.

PTI leader Imran Khan, who was in the middle of the shelling, vowed to take the fight to the PM house. "Today will be decisive," he told reporters on Sunday, adding "either Nawaz Sharif will have to disperse or we will be dispersed by the police."

Protesters used a truck to break open the gates and poured into the main parliament building compound. The main area which the police are protecting is the PM’s house and another showdown is expected here in the evening.

PTI reports quoting a source in the ruling PML-N that Sharif had left his official residence in Islamabad and shifted to his house in Lahore.

Read: Pak PM dismisses political crisis as 'tiny storm'

Open to talks: Pak govt
Meanwhile the government again reached out to the protesters saying they were open to restarting negotiations. "They wanted their demands to be met at gunpoint but still, our doors are open for talks," Information minister Pervaiz Rashid said

On Saturday night, police lobbed teargas shells and resorted to lathicharge to disperse protesters loyal to Imran’s Pakistan Tehreek e Insaaf and firebrand cleric Tahir-ul-Qadri’s Pakistan Awami Tehreek.

Among the hundreds injured, many suffered respiratory problems caused by tear gas shelling. Others were brought in for injuries caused in the lathi charge.

Read:Qadri issues 24-hour deadline for Sharif to resign

Police were brutal: protesters
Many of those admitted said the police were particularly brutal in its attack on the protesters. Many media persons were among the injured.

The latest rounds of protest came after talks between the government and the PTI and PAT broke down. A mediatory role offered by the army chief did not come to much as both sides accused the other of inviting the army into the crisis.

The PM stated on the floor of the parliament earlier this week that the army had come in to play a mediatory role on the insistence of the protesting parties. This claim was refuted by both Qadri and Imran Khan who insisted that the PM was lying.

While Sharif has repeated that he will not step down, his detractors are insisting that they will settle for nothing less. "The end is near. The government is crumbling," PAT leader Tahir ul Qadri told his supporters as he led a protest earlier this week wearing a shroud.

Read:Protest leaders meet Pakistan Army chief

(With PTI inputs)

First Published: Aug 31, 2014 00:22 IST