Pakistani Anti-Government Protests Turn Deadly

As many as seven people died in an overnight standoff with police in Islamabad. The protesters are demanding the resignation of Prime Minister Sharif.

Pakistani Anti-Government Protests Turn Deadly

The violent standoff in Pakistan escalated overnight, as protests in the capital turned deadly.

As many as seven protesters died in overnight clashes with police. Some 450 others were admitted to government hospitals for their injuries. (Video via BBC

The clashes broke out Saturday night near the prime minister’s house in Islamabad. Police fired tear gas  and rubber bullets on the protesters, some of whom were reportedly carrying sticks and wire cutters. (Video via Mediaone TV

Those protesters are calling for fresh elections and the resignation of Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif.

The anti-Sharif anger is, in part, rooted in the prime minister’s failure to deliver on campaign promises. A fragile economy and a recent wave of insurgent violence haven't helped either. (Video via Euronews)

Leading the protests are cricket player-turned-politician Imran Khan and Canadian-Pakistani cleric Dr. Tahir ul Qadri.

The Economist dubs their latest efforts a “shameless power grab.”

Pakistani author Raza Rumi offers more insight to Al Jazeera: “Both groups have little new to offer beyond the overthrow of Sharif's government. There is no concrete plan.”

Earlier this week, talks between the government and the opposition broke down after Sharif again refused to step down. Doing so, he says, would be unconstitutional.

An analyst for the BBC says it’s tough to imagine this ending well for the prime minister: Even if Mr Sharif's government survives this episode, it is going to come out rather bruised.”

​His government has agreed to some concessions, including making changes to Pakistan’s electoral system. The army, meanwhile, has stepped in to mediate the now two-week long impasse.