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Pakistan President says no use of force against protesters

Published on Jan 17, 2013 6:09 AM

ISLAMABAD (AFP) - Pakistan's President on Wednesday intervened to stop authorities from using force against protesters who are calling for parliament to be dissolved in Islamabad's largest political rally in years.

Interior Minister Rehman Malik had warned of a "targeted operation" to disperse an estimated 25,000 demonstrators if they did not go peacefully by Thursday.

"For the safety of the women and children in the protest I request you to leave by tomorrow," Mr Malik told a press conference late on Wednesday, as the rally led by Muslim cleric Tahir-ul Qadri continued for a fourth day.

After the conference, a government statement quoted President Asif Ali Zardari as saying: "There would be no operation against the participants of long march, holding sit-in in the federal capital."

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