Tens of thousands gather as anti-government protest convoys reach Pakistan's capital

8/15/2014
ASSOCIATED PRESS
Thousands of opposition protesters on Thursday joined large convoys headed to Pakistan's capital Islamabad for a mass rally to demand the ouster of the prime minister over allegations of vote fraud.
Thousands of opposition protesters on Thursday joined large convoys headed to Pakistan's capital Islamabad for a mass rally to demand the ouster of the prime minister over allegations of vote fraud.

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.