Pakistan army urges talks as protesters await political showdown

Pakistani supporters of Canada-based preacher Tahir-ul-Qadri dance in Islamabad on August 20, 2014Pakistan’s powerful military called Wednesday for talks to resolve a week-long political drama as tens of thousands of protesters marched on parliament in a bid to depose the prime minister. Men, women and children of all ages staged a sit-in outside the parliament building after defying a government ban on entering Islamabad’s “red zone”, which houses key buildings including the official residences of the prime minister and the president and foreign embassies. Imran Khan, the former cricket star and now chairman of the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaaf (PTI), and preacher Tahir-ul-Qadri have led days of protests demanding the resignation of Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif. They say last year’s general election was rigged, and have piled pressure on the government, starting with two-day “long marches” from the eastern city of Lahore to Islamabad, where they have held five days of rallies.

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