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Pakistan cleric propels protest into third day

Published on Jan 16, 2013 1:31 PM
Members of the civil society hold placards during a protest against the Supreme Court decision to arrest Prime Minister Raja Pervez Ashraf in Lahore on Wednesday. Pakistan's Supreme Court ordered the arrest of the prime minister on Tuesday on corruption allegations, ratcheting up pressure on a government that is also facing street protests led by a cleric who has a history of ties to the army. -- PHOTO: REUTERS

ISLAMABAD (AFP) - Pakistani protesters rallied for a third day on Wednesday in the largest political demonstration seen for years in the capital, calling on the government to quit after the Supreme Court ordered the arrest of the prime minister.

Tens of thousands of followers of Pakistani-Canadian cleric Tahir-ul Qadri massed near parliament house, where they were dug in for the long haul with stocks of food and bedding.

A general election is due to be held by mid-May, but Mr Qadri wants parliament dissolved immediately and a caretaker government set up in consultation with the military and the judiciary, to implement key reforms before the polls are held.

As Mr Qadri delivered a fiery speech to his supporters on Tuesday, berating "corrupt and incompetent" politicians for the country's woes, the Supreme Court issued an order to arrest Prime Minister Raja Pervez Ashraf and 16 others over graft allegations in power generation projects in 2010.

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