'Shut Down' Protests by Imran Khan Turn Violent
Charged PTI protestors rally on the streets of Faisalabad.
NEW DELHI: One person was killed and at least 12 were injured as protesters from the opposition Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) clashed with police and Pakistan Muslim League - Nawaz (PML-N) workers in Faisalabad on Monday. Hundreds of protesters were heeding the call of PTI leader Imran Khan’s “shut down” protests, which are being organised across Pakistan in anticipation of a country wide strike on December 18.
The protest in Faisalabad turned violent, with several of the protesters blocking roads, throwing rocks and burning tyres. Small groups of PTI protesters clashed PML-N workers as well. The violence left a PTI worker -- Haq Nawaz -- dead, and 12 other PTI workers and five policemen injured.
Party spokesperson Sharin Mizari said the man involved in firing was a guard of PML-N cabinet member Rana Sanaullah. Sanaullah denied the allegation and said that the man had been identified, and his identity will be made public shortly.
The PTI asked for protests to continue as it called a day of mourning on Tuesday in the form of a mourning day (Youm-i-Sog) protest. Tahirul Qadri’s Pakistani Awami Tehreek (PAT) and the Majlis-i-Wahdatul Muslimeen have announced that they will be joining the PTI’s mourning day protest.
The protests have been called with the aim of pressuring the ruling PML-N government to carry out a vote recount for the May 2013 elections, which the PTI alleged was won through mass election fraud.
The PTI, joined by the PAT, have been calling for Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif’s resignation, with the country witnessing widespread unrest as the two parties organised protests beginning on the country’s Independence Day, August 14.
The Pakistani government, in turn, rejects the allegations, and has stated that it is opposed to an “unconstitutional” transfer of power. The government has said that whilst it is willing to talk to the PTI, protests and dialogue cannot go hand-in-hand. Addressing a meeting of the Pakistan Federal Union of Journalists, Information Minister Pervez Rashid said “protests and talks cannot go together.” Rashid asked the PTI leadership to ensure that the "atmosphere [is] conducive for the resumption of dialogue".
Responding to this statement, PTI leader Arif Alvi (as quoted in India Today) said, “"The atmosphere has been conducive to talks for past many months as there has been no violence or any unconstitutional act committed by the PTI.”
However, the violence a day later in Faisalabad, will presumably complicate things further.
Photos posted on Twitter provide an insight into the mood in Pakistan.