Pakistani cleric, government strike deal to end protestsBy ZARAR KHAN
THE Associated Press | January 18,2013ISLAMABAD — Pakistani officials struck a deal late Thursday with a fiery Muslim cleric to end four days of anti-government protests by thousands of people that largely paralyzed the capital and put intense pressure on the government.
The cleric, Tahir-ul-Qadri, galvanized many Pakistanis with his message alleging that the nation’s politicians are corrupt thieves who care more about lining their pockets than dealing with the country’s pressing problems, such as electricity shortages, high unemployment and deadly attacks by Islamic militants.
But his demand that the government be dissolved and replaced by a military-backed caretaker administration raised concerns that he was being used by the nation’s powerful army to try to delay parliamentary elections expected this spring. The army has a history of toppling civilian governments in military coups and has done little to hide its disdain for the country’s politicians.
Qadri has denied the allegations. He also demanded electoral reform to prevent corrupt politicians from standing for elections.
The agreement was reached after hours of negotiation inside a bulletproof container the religious leader was using at the demonstration site. Thousands of protesters packed into the main avenue running through the capital, Islamabad, danced and cheered when Qadri announced from the container that he had hammered out an agreement with the government.
The government agreed with the cleric to dissolve the National Assembly before its term ends in mid-March, giving 90 days until elections are held, according to a member of the negotiating team. That would give time to make sure politicians are eligible to stand for election, he said. The government also agreed that the caretaker administration, which normally precedes elections, would be chosen in consultation with all parties, the negotiator said.
A declaration laying out the agreement between the government and Qadri was signed by Prime Minister Raja Pervaiz Ashraf as well as the high-level government officials who made up the negotiating team, an official in the premier’s office said.
Both officials spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to talk to the media.MORE IN Wire NewsThe Los Angeles Dodgers said Shuba died at his home in Youngstown, Ohio. Full StoryHONG KONG — Hong Kong’s leader refused to meet with pro-democracy demonstrators by their midnight... Full Story
- Most Popular
- Most Emailed
- RICHARD'S POOR ALMANACK: Julius Caesar dedicates a temple to his mythical ancestor, Venus Genetrix; on this day in 1933, FBI agents in Memphis, Tennessee, arrest Machine Gun Kelly; Yves Rossi flies the English Channel with home-made jet-pack.
- RICHARD'S POOR ALMANACK: On this day in 1852, Henri Giffard demonstrates the first steam-powered airship, sailing 17 miles from Paris to Trappes; on this day in 1877, Japanese imperial troops crush the Satsuma Rebellion, Saigo Takamori dies in Kagoshima.
- TOMORROW'S HEADLINES TODAY: U.S. Rep. Peter Welch meets with Killington business owners, governor candidates debate, Gov. Shumlin discusses progress in anti-opiate campaign, Spanos trial venue moves to White River Junction.
- RICHARD'S POOR ALMANACK: On this day in 1776, as Nathan Hale is hanged by British military authorities for spying, he utters his famous last words — or does he? In 1975, Sara Jane Moore attempts to kill President Gerald R. Ford in San Francisco.
- TOMORROW'S HEADLINES TODAY: Patrick McArdle reports and the theft of an $89,000 shotgun, police release a video of the Monday Castleton robbery, O'Gorman reports a lawsuit by a local man claiming his vehicle unlawfully seized, police leave him in cold.
- RICHARD'S POOR ALMANACK: Giles Corey of Salem, Mass., is pressed to death during the Salem witch trials; on this day in 1952, film comedian Charlie Chaplin, while traveling to England, is denied re-entry into the United States by U.S. attorney general.