A Pakistani cleric leading mass anti-government rallies in the capital says talks with the government have yielded no results.
“Sorry to announce that the dialogue with the government has completely failed,” Muhammad Tahir ul-Qadri told a gathering of his supporters in Islamabad on Wednesday.
“We tried our best for peaceful negotiations. Now nobody can blame us. The remaining people should come tonight and join us, the decision will be yours.”
Qadri, along with Imran Khan, the leader of Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) party, has been leading daily rallies in the capital since August 14.
Qadri, who is the head of the opposition Pakistan Awami Tehreek (PAT) party, and Khan have been protesting against alleged vote fraud in the last year’s parliamentary elections that brought Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif to power.
Sharif has ordered the Supreme Court to set up an investigative team to look into the elections.
On Monday, Qadri issued a 48-hour deadline for Sharif to step down. The premier, however, has refused to resign.
“We are not going to be diverted by these things,” Sharif said on Wednesday, referring to calls for his resignation by thousands of protesters camped outside the parliament.
“The journey for the supremacy of the constitution and law in Pakistan will continue with full determination and, God willing, there will not be any interruption in it.”
On Monday, the Supreme Court ordered protest leaders and the government to find a compromise solution so that the “Red Zone” — home to parliament, the prime minister’s home, foreign embassies and government offices — could be cleared. However, the protesters defied the court’s order.