Punjab police arrest 147 Imran and Qadri supporters overnight

Inspector Rana Hussain says arrests were made to prevent them joining the protests in Islamabad

Reuters August 19, 2014

MULTAN: As twin protests in Islamabad entered a fifth day on Tuesday, police said they had arrested some 150 supporters of Pakistan Awami Tehreek (PAT) and Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaaf (PTI) overnight in Punjab in a crackdown ahead of widening demonstrations in the capital.

PTI chief Imran Khan and PAT leader Tahir ul Qadri led tens of thousands of supporters from Punjab to Islamabad in a bid to bring down Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, whom they accuse of rigging elections and corruption.

The protests have piled extra pressure on the 15-month-old Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) government already struggling to overcome high unemployment, daily power cuts and terrorism.

Police in Punjab arrested 147 supporters of Imran and Qadri overnight to prevent them joining the protests in Islamabad, said Inspector Rana Hussain in the central town of Sargodha.

Imran had said on Monday he would lead protesters into the capital's Red Zone today.

The government has previously said protesters are not allowed to enter the area. It is flooded with riot police and paramilitary forces and cordoned off with shipping containers and barbed wire.

Qadri has said he will meet his supporters later on Tuesday to consider whether to march alongside Khan. Their protests have so far remained separate because the two have different supporters and plans for what should happen if Nawaz steps down.