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Imran Khan, Cleric Qadri Lead Thousands of Protesters to Islamabad's 'Red Zone'

Imran Khan, Cleric Qadri Lead Thousands of Protesters to Islamabad's 'Red Zone'

Supporters of Canada-based cleric Tahir-ul-Qadri march towards Parliament as they take part in an anti-government demonstration in Islamabad on August 19

Islamabad:  Pakistan Opposition leader Imran Khan and cleric Tahir-ul-Qadri on Tuesday night marched with thousands of their supporters to enter the heavily fortified 'Red Zone', Islamabad's diplomatic and political enclave. (See Pics)

"Promise me, if something happens to me, you will take revenge from Nawaz Sharif," Mr Khan said while addressing his supporters before starting his march towards the high security zone that houses important government buildings including Parliament House, Prime Minister's House, President's House, the Supreme Court and embassies of various countries. (Buzz on Twitter)

Unfazed by the deployment of the Army, Mr Khan and Mr Qadri marched towards Parliament demanding Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif's resignation, putting his government on the backfoot.

Anti-government protesters entered the Red Zone, even as clashes took place between them and the police at Serena Chowk where they removed shipping containers, Dunya TV reported.

The police was not putting up stern resistance and slowly retreated as part of policy to avoid violence.

The supporters of both Mr Khan and Mr Qadri started separately but later were moving towards Parliament together.

Information Minister Pervaiz Rashid told Geo TV that the marchers have violated written commitment that they will not enter the Red Zone.

"They have women and children with them. So the government has decided to show maximum restraint. They want dead bodies but we will not give them the opportunity despite provocations," he said.

Red alert was issued at capital's Polyclinic Hospital and Pakistan Institute of Medical Sciences (PIMS), the two leading state-run medical facilities. Arrangements for additional medicines, emergency operations and extra beds were also made at the two hospitals.

"I'm coming! I'm coming to hold you accountable!" Mr Khan said, as his vehicle progressed towards the 'Red Zone'. Anti-government protesters were armed with wire cutters and cranes accompanied them to remove containers.

Prime Minister Sharif has said he will not resign under any circumstance, Dawn News reported quoting sources.

As the protesters marched towards Parliament, Mr Sharif was present inside the official residence in the 'Red Zone' along with senior leaders of his ruling PML-N party. He is personally keeping a tab on the developing situation.

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