Protests in Islamabad Spiraling Out Of Control, With Authorities Fearing The Use of Force

Protests in Islamabad — the capital city of Pakistan — have continued for the third day in a row with a boom of clashes between police and citizens who are showing no signs of stopping, according to BBC News. Just like protests in Turkey against the conservative arm of self-elected president Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, or the wave of the Arab Spring, it’s easy to get on board with anyone standing up against government corruption — but the problem is that is isn’t clear if Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif really did rig elections to get himself into power.

Despite whether or not they may be in the right, many of the actions of the protesters have been quite strong-armed. On Monday, the group stormed the state TV station PTV to stop what they called biased coverage of the clashes, reported The Guardian. Armed forces were unable to exert any force to quell their actions despite the fact that several protesters came in carrying sticks and weapons seized from on-site security. Before being cut off, one journalist offered this as the station’s final message:

“PTV staff performing their journalistic duties are being beaten up.”

Although protests did disperse peacefully after police arrived on site, the event was still not exactly a palatable way for the rallying cry to be seen to the world, and Imran Khan and populist cleric Tahir-ul-Qadri — the two largely responsible for the protests in Islamabad — know it. Both Imran and Tahir-ul-Qadri have made efforts to distance themselves from the more violent acts, even if language in their speeches does often read as an attempt to incite violence, according to The Guardian.

Some media, however, have sided with the government. M Ilyas Khan, BBC’s Islamabad correspondent, reported that the protests are mostly composed of fringe groups.

“A popularly elected government, which now also has the support of almost all opposition forces, is being cornered by a minority political group and the followers of a cleric who runs a charity network.”

Although Sharif’s ascent to a third term as prime minister does have quite a few loose ends, the government has at least put on the appearance of trying to solve the issue without the use of force. However, local Pakistani daily The News did report that he has met with his Chief of Arms Gen. Raheel Sharif to discuss how they will react to the continuing protests in Islamabad.

[Photo via Flickr]