Monday, September 1, 2014

"They have stormed the PTV office"

.....200 supporters of Qadri seized the PTV building......"They have stormed the PTV office"...news anchor said just before the screen went blank....."PTV staff performing their journalistic duties are being beaten up".......Khan, who like Qadri has since 15 August been living on the streets.....frequently alluded to a "third umpire"....send Sharif home...veiled reference to the army.....
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This is looking like the beginning of the end. How long is it before Nawaz Sharif departs for Saudi Arabia. This guy is likely to be de-throned for the third time...this has to be a record of some sorts. The closest analogy we can think of is from the fictional depictions of Latin America a few decades back when there would be a musical chair full of supreme rulers which ever way you look.

One thing is for sure, we would not like to tangle with that youngster - the one in the fore-ground with an intense look and a thick stick - down a dark alleyway.

Here is our revenge in a teacup proposal. After the PTI-PAT combo comes to power, can the Sharif brothers return the favor by invading the inner sanctum with their supporters? The country will by then have moved to a permanent chaotic state. The new mind-set is as follows: why bother to co-operate in the national interest, when you can be in opposition and have fun all the time.
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Anti-government protesters pushed further into sensitive areas of the Pakistani capital on Monday, briefly taking over the state broadcaster and forcing it off air.
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The police force, under orders from the beleaguered civilian government, did little to prevent thousands of supporters of former cricket star Imran Khan and populist cleric Tahir-ul-Qadri from entering a compound containing many government ministries in Islamabad and the offices of the Pakistan Television Corporation (PTV).

The all-powerful army had decreed on Sunday night that the government should not use force against protesters following clashes on Saturday in which three people died and hundreds were injured.

The weekend violence had been triggered when Qadri and Khan ordered their followers, who had been camped on a road in a high security area of the capital where government buildings are located, to storm the prime minister's residence although ultimately they only succeeded in flooding on to the lawns of parliament.

On Monday more than 200 supporters of Qadri seized the PTV building, reportedly seizing weapons from security guards. "They have stormed the PTV office," a news anchor said just before the screen went blank. "PTV staff performing their journalistic duties are being beaten up."

Army troops also refused to use force and protesters were free to simply mill amid the large troop deployment in the capital. Instead army soldiers asked the crowds to leave restricted areas and not enter government ministry buildings. Eventually, protesters were also persuaded to leave PTV, which then began broadcasting again.

All sides of the dispute are treating the military with extreme caution and respect. On Sunday it published a statement saying it was "committed to playing its part in ensuring security of the state" but wanted the situation to be "resolved politically without wasting any time and without recourse to violent means".

Many protesters say they hope the army will step in to support their cause by either seizing power or at least ordering prime minister Nawaz Sharif to step down, just 15 months after he was elected in a huge landslide victory.

Khan, who like Qadri has since 15 August been living on the streets in a specially modified sea container, has in his many speeches frequently alluded to a "third umpire" who will send Sharif home – a thinly veiled reference to the army.

Although the military has directly ruled Pakistan for half of its history, and wielded enormous power behind the scenes even when civilians have nominally been in control, many analysts doubt the army wants to oust the government.

While senior generals have repeatedly clashed with Sharif over the past year, an unconstitutional removal of the government would jeopardise billions of dollars of much needed US aid.

It is widely suspected however that the army will attempt to use the crisis to clip the wings of Sharif, who has defied the top brass by ordering a high treason trial for former military ruler Pervez Musharraf and by pushing for better diplomatic and trade relations with India.

But even though the military appeared to be trying to remain as an independent arbitrator between the two sides the extraordinary television pictures of troops flooding on to the streets highlighted the government's growing vulnerability.

Many of the soldiers were members of the 111 Brigade, which has been responsible during past coups for grabbing government buildings – in particular the offices of PTV. On Monday morning large numbers of troops were seen pouring into the office block in central Islamabad.

The mornings have generally been quiet during the two-week long crisis that has gripped Pakistan's capital with political speeches and rallies largely being held in the evening. But just before 9am the crowds began to once again try to remove sea containers placed on roads leading to the prime minister's house. Despite the use of teargas and shooting into the air above the protesters the police were unable to stop the crowds moving to various areas around Islamabad's Red Zone.

Khan said attempts to negotiate had collapsed because the government had refused to meet his main demand that the prime minister should step down, even just temporarily whilst a commission of inquiry investigates last year's election that Khan claims was rigged to deprive him of victory. 

While the May 2013 election was not without irregularities, no independent election monitoring group has supported Khan's claims of massive rigging that would have changed the overall result.

On Monday Khan said he would not call off the protests. "I call upon my workers to remain peaceful," Khan said from atop a shipping container at the main rally site. "Do not carry out any acts of violence. God has given us victory."

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Link: guardian.com/pakistan-protesters-prime-minister-nawaz-sharif-islamabad

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regards