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Cleric leads tens of thousands into Islamabad

Published on Jan 15, 2013 1:04 AM

ISLAMABAD (AFP) - Tens of thousands of Pakistani protesters demanding sweeping reforms poured into Islamabad late on Monday, led by a cleric accused of trying to sow political chaos ahead of elections.

Mr Tahir-ul Qadri, a Pakistani-Canadian who returned to his homeland last month after years in Toronto, accuses the government of corruption and incompetency, and says reforms must be enacted by a caretaker administration before polls.

He claims to be able to mobilise two million people and says his followers will camp out with food, fuel and blankets until their demands are met.

But the significance of the rally will hinge on turnout, whether there is any violence and to what extent the protesters are able to penetrate Islamabad, where shipping containers have been used to seal off the main approaches.

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