Islamabad: Utter chaos prevailed in the VIP area of the Pakistan capital late on Saturday with the 17-day-old standoff between protesters and the government taking a new turn after thousands of protesters armed with lathis broke through security cordons and were marching towards the residence of the beseiged Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif.
Police opened fire and used tear gas and lathicharged the protesters led by Imran Khan and Tahir-ul-Qadri, which had laid seige to key buildings such as the National Assembly and Supreme Court since August 14 suddenly used cutters to penetrate barbed wire barricades.
One woman was killed in police firing and several protesters injured.
“We have received more than 50 injured, most of them have rubber bullet injuries. Seventeen among them are women,” said Wasim Khawaja, a spokesman for the Pakistan Institute of Medical Sciences hospital.
A second doctor said seven police officials were among were the wounded.
The clashes broke out when protesters who have been camped outside parliament for two weeks tried to storm the prime minister’s house, using cranes to remove barricades
Pakistan Tehrik-e-Insaf (PTI) and the Pakistan Awami Tehrik (PAT) had on Saturday announced to shift their sit-ins within feet of Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif’s office as they stormed into the high-security zone of the official residence of the Premier.
Close to midnight, turmoil prevailed in the heart of Islamabad after a number of demonstrators refused to disperse from the protest site.
As tension mounted, Sharif left for Lahore. A late night government announcement categorically ruled out Sharif’s resignation.
“We have been protesting against the rigging and the PM who came to power as a result of that rigging. We will remain peaceful but will move to the front gate of the PM’s house. We will not force our way into the PM’s house,” Imran Khan said addressing his supporters here.
He warned Mr Sharif that if force was used against the protesters, there will be “dire consequences and you will also not be spared”.
Earlier, PAT chief Tahirul Qadri had issued an identical statement asking his supporters to move towards the PM’s house.
The PAT leader said that the protesters have demonstrated great patience for 17 days and now, showing exemplary peace, will move forward and stage a sit-in outside the Prime Minister’s house.
Mr Qadri said that he was ready to give one more month to the government for investigation of the Model Town incident if Mr Sharif resigned from his post for a month.