Islamabad: Fiery cleric Tahir-ul-Qadri tonight ended his over two months-long anti-government protest in the Pakistani capital but said demonstrations will now be held across the country as the “next stage of the revolution”.
While addressing his supporters, Qadri said the sit-in had turned into a revolution and announced that his Pakistan Awami Tehreek (PAT) will launch countrywide protests as second phase of agitation to remove the government. “The participants should pack their bags, return to their homes,” he said.
Qadri also announced a schedule for sit-ins that will be held in other cities.
The next sit-in will be in Abbottabad on October 23 after which protests will be stopped during the month of Muharram. Protests will then again start in Bhakkar on November 23, in Sargodha on December 5, in Sialkot on December 14 and in Karachi on December 25, he said.
Qadri and Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) chief Imran Khan launched their protests in a bid to oust Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif on August 14 and had vowed to remain in Islamabad till the removal of government led by him. There have been reports of a rift between Qadri and Imran over the issue of ending the sit-in as their supporters were tired and most of them had gone back to their homes.
Khan is still protesting but pressure was expected to mount on him to end the demonstration after Qadri's decision. Qadri was reportedly holding back-channel talks with government and speculation was rife in the media that he might have reached some understanding with the government.
Prime Minister Sharif asked his party men not to issue any statement over Qadri's decisions, reports said. The end of protest by Qadri comes as a major relief for Sharif as he was under immense pressure to act with the protests paralyzing the heart of the capital.