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Pakistani Cleric Leads Thousands On Protest March

Supporters of Pakistani religious leader Muhammad Tahir-ul-Qadri take part in a protest march in Lahore on January 13.
A Pakistani cleric and thousands of his supporters have left the eastern city of Lahore on a protest march to demand sweeping election reforms.

Muhammad Tahir-ul-Qadri, an influential Islamic preacher, accuses the government of being corrupt and has demanded key reforms before national elections this spring.

Hundreds of cars, buses, and trucks carrying around 7,000 people left Lahore.

That number is expected to grow to about 15,000 as the protesters march to the capital, Islamabad, where a massive rally is expected on January 14.

Marchers waved flags and pictures of the 61-year-old Sunni Muslim cleric.

Islamabad has accused Qadri, who returned to Pakistan last month after years in Canada, of trying to derail the elections.

Qadri has denied the allegations.

Based on reporting by AP and AFP