Pak Court Orders Release of Protesters

Sajjad Hussain/ Islamabad
Pak Court Orders Release of Protesters

In a major boost to the morale of anti-government protesters, a Pakistani court today ordered the release of all arrested supporters of Imran Khan and cleric Tahir-ul-Qadri, a day after the two leaders suspended talks and mounted pressure on the embattled government.

Pakistani police arrested several protesters and a court yesterday ordered that 100 opposition activists be sent to jail on a 14-day remand for holding illegal protests and for other violations.

Out of the hundred, 91 workers belong to Khan's Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) while the remaining are Pakistan Awami Tehreek (PAT) workers.

Chief Justice Mohammad Anwar Khan Kasi of Islamabad High Court (IHC) today set aside the orders of the lower court and ordered the release of the workers. The judge also asked the government to file a reply over the arrests by September 17.

Both Khan and Qadri have alleged that hundreds of workers of their respective protesting groups have been arrested in a crackdown launched on Friday.

The government has said that only those people have been held who were involved in attacks on police and official buildings including the Pakistan Television office.

Islamabad Police Chief Tahir Alam told media today that police would request the court to set aside its release orders as those arrested were involved in the attack on Parliament.

Addressing his supporters last night on the completion of one month of protest, Khan vowed to continue protests in front of Parliament till Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif steps down.

"There is no room for negotiations any more...We will not leave till the premier resigns," Khan said.

He questioned Prime Minister Sharif if it is democratic to arrest young workers. "Officials putting young people behind bars should be ashamed of themselves...It is our democratic right to protest peacefully," Khan said.

"Sharif's real face has been unveiled, he is a dictator and his rule is worse than General Pervez Musharraf's rule," Khan said.

"We cannot rely on the police or judiciary anymore," the PTI chief said.

He said that his dream of "Naya Pakistan" would soon come true and promised to introduce transparent government system in the country after ousting the present government.

Qadri, who has been leading parallel demonstrations, said he has suspended talks with the PML-N government following the crackdown here on demonstrators demanding Sharif's ouster.

Both leaders have been agitating since August 14. At least three people have been killed and over 550 injured in violence during the protests.

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