Pak protesters show no sign of giving up
Opposition gives Imran 48-hour ultimatum to resign
ISLAMABAD, Nov 8: Patience is wearing thin among some residents of the Pakistani capital enduring another round of anti-government protests, with tens of thousands of opposition supporters showing no sign of giving up despite the onset of winter rain.
Huge crowds descended on Islamabad from various parts of the country a week ago, denouncing the government of Prime Minister Imran Khan as illegitimate and calling for him to step down. The capital's sole public transport system, which runs by the protest site, has been suspended.
Pakistan's opposition leaders, led by firebrand cleric-cum-politician Maulana Fazlur Rehman, on Thursday gave Prime Minister Imran Khan a 48-hour ultimatum to resign, saying the massive anti-government protest will take a new direction after two days.
The right-wing Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam Fazl (JUI-F) leader is leading the massive protest dubbed as ''Azadi March'', which entered the seventh day on Thursday, demanding Prime Minister Khan's resignation, accusing him of "rigging" the 2018 general elections.
Imran has dismissed the calls to resign and his government, which the opposition says won power after a fraudulent election with the support of the military, has denounced the protests as a threat to democracy.
Addressing thousands of protesters on Thursday night, Maulana Fazlur Rehman said the government negotiators should not come for talks if the prime minister's resignation is off the table.
"No need to come to us. When you come, you must come with the intention of leaving the corridors of power behind," he was quoted as saying by Geo TV.
"You are at a dead end now and now you must decide whether you want to continue to remain there or come out and give back the people their right," Maulana Fazlur Rehman said, addressing the prime minister.
He said the opposition leaders do not want NRO from Mr Khan, instead they will not give it to him.
Meanwhile, Opposition's Rahbar Committee said it will increase pressure on government.
"The Azadi March will take a new direction after two days," said senior JUI-F leader Akram Khan Durrani.
He said the party workers are determined, even willing to stay up to three months.
Pakistan People's Party leader Farhatullah Babar said that the opposition is putting the government under pressure, calling it "the first phase".
Earlier on Thursday, Punjab Assembly Speaker Chaudhry Pervaiz Elahi, a member of the government's negotiating team, held talks with Maulana Fazlur Rehman at his residence in Islamabad to find a way to end the sit-in, the Dawn reported. -REUTERS