Supporters of cricketer-turned-politician Imran Khan stop from entering to Islamabad, as being blocked by authorities, Thursday, Aug 14, 2014 in Pakistan. Roads leading to the capital are being blocked in run up to announced protests by Khan and anti-government cleric Tahir-ul-Qadri. Both men want the government to step down and new elections to be held. (AP Photo/B.K. Bangash)
ISLAMABAD — Tens of thousands of anti-government protesters have gathered in Pakistan’s capital Islamabad following the arrival of convoys led by a cricket star-turned-politician and a fiery anti-Taliban cleric.
The twin protests led by Imran Khan and the cleric Tahir-ul-Qadri represent the biggest challenge yet to Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif’s year-old government. The protesters left the eastern city of Lahore on Thursday, vowing to camp out until their demands for a new government are met.
They remained on the road for two days before entering Islamabad shortly before midnight. Police estimate the crowd at 60,000 people.
Sharif says he is ready to meet with his opponents but has given no indication that he would step down. His critics accuse him of vote fraud during the election that brought him to power a year ago.