Islamabad, Jan 15: Influential cleric Tahir-ul-Qadri's campaign for electoral reforms today flared into an open confrontation with the Pakistan government as he called for the dissolution of the national and provincial assemblies by 11 am.
Addressing a gathering of tens of thousands of his followers at Jinnah Avenue in the heart of Islamabad, Qadri claimed President Asif Ali Zardari, Prime Minister Raja Pervez Ashraf and the federal ministers could no longer hold office.
"End your government. I give you time till the morning to dissolve the National Assembly and provincial assemblies, otherwise people will make the decisions tomorrow," Qadri thundered to loud cheers from his supporters.
"Your mandate has ended, the fake mandate you obtained through wealth, rigging and fake votes. The people who gave you a mandate through the vote have taken back their mandate as a protest.
Your government and assemblies have ended tonight," he claimed while speaking from a bulletproof cabin set up onmj a stage.
Qadri yesterday began a "long march" from Lahore to pressure the government to carry out sweeping electoral reforms, including the dissolution of the Election Commission and the formation of a caretaker set-up after consultations with the army and judiciary.
"The long march has ended at 2am this morning in Islamabad and now the revolution has begun," he said.
Though Qadri's Tehrik Minhaj-ul-Quran party had signed an agreement with the Islamabad administration to hold a peaceful protest a few kilometres from the National Assembly, the cleric surprised authorities by inciting his followers to remove barricades and move towards a square near parliament.