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Pakistani Protesters Storm TV; Sharif Meets Army Chief

  • RFE/RL

Reports say Pakistan's prime minister met with the army chief after protesters seeking his ouster stormed the headquarters of state television.

Hundreds of protesters broke into PTV headquarters in Islamabad on September 1, but soldiers and paramilitary forces later cleared the building, with no reports of violence.

Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif and General Raheel Sharif met later as tensions persisted.

Earlier on September 1, protesters clashed with police outside Sharif's residence.

Calls For Resignation

Protesters led by opposition politician Imran Khan and populist cleric Tahir ul-Qadri have been demonstrating for weeks, calling for Sharif to resign.

The army has called on the sides to resolve their differences peacefully but also vowed to maintain security.

Protesters accuse Sharif of corruption and massive voting fraud in the election that brought him to power last year.

Sharif denies the allegations and has refused to step down.

The protests against Sharif began in mid-August, when thousands of demonstrators marched from the eastern city of Lahore to the capital.

Protesters have since camped out near parliament to press their demands.

Three Dead, Thousands Injured

On August 30, three people were killed and thousands injured as protesters tried to reach Sharif's residence.

There were more clashes earlier on September 1, as protesters again tried to break through police lines near the prime minister's house.

Several police officers and at least three protesters were reported injured in the violence.

At PTV headquarters later, protesters armed with clubs smashed through some equipment and cut transmissions.

However, some private TV stations showed footage of protesters applauding the paramilitary forces when they entered the building and agreed to leave.

PTV was back on the air after soldiers secured the building.

Khan sought to distance himself from the incident, and reports said the protesters who broke into PTV headquarters appeared to be mainly Qadri supporters.

Reports say Sharif is due to address parliament on September 2 in an apparent effort to show that he is firmly in control.

With reporting by Reuters, AP, and AFP

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