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Ear to the Ground

30,000 Protesters Breach Pakistan’s ‘Red Zone’

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Posted on Aug 19, 2014

  Supporters of Pakistani cricketer-turned-politician Imran Khan shout slogans against Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif during a protest in Islamabad, Pakistan. AP/Muhammed Muheisen

A huge crowd of protesters organized by a cricket star and a cleric have pushed past barbed wire and barricades to make their way ever closer to Parliament in Islamabad.

The throng is reportedly angry about last year’s election, which was either “Pakistan’s first peaceful transfer of power between two civilian democratic governments” or a stolen election, depending on whom you ask.

They want Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif to resign. Sharif has ordered the Pakistani military into the streets, but as of this posting the two sides have not come to blows.

The Associated Press via The Washington Post:

Two Pakistani security officials said a total of 700 troops had been deployed to guard the “Red Zone.” They spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not allowed to speak publicly about troop movements. Another 30,000 members of the country’s security forces also were in the area, authorities said.

Authorities pleaded for calm ahead of the march, then later warned of possible bloodshed.

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The “red zone” is a designated area that includes Pakistan’s primary government and diplomatic buildings. The government had barricaded the area with shipping containers and barbed wire, but the protesters managed to push through, and are said to be moving slowly toward their goal.

—Posted by Peter Z. Scheer

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