Islamabad – Tens of thousands of protesters armed with wire cutters and backed by cranes broke through barriers protecting Pakistan’s parliament and other government buildings Tuesday night, demanding the country’s prime minister resign.
Government authorities had warned they would not allow protesters to enter Islamabad’s “Red Zone,” but the demonstrators met no immediate resistance from police or the hundreds of troops guarding the buildings.
Wearing masks and carrying makeshift shields, they hammered through barbed wire and locks connecting shipping containers that had been erected as a barrier around the zone, which also holds the president’s and prime minister’s ceremonial homes and many diplomatic posts.
Demanding the resignation of Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, they shouted, “Go, Nawaz, go!” Excited young men and women made V-for-victory signs.
A government minister, Saad Rafiq, said the prime minister allowed the protesters to enter the sensitive area to avoid bloodshed.
Russia, Ukraine leaders to meet Tuesday
Moscow – The presidents of Russia and Ukraine will meet next week in Minsk, the capital of neighboring Belarus, to discuss the combat consuming eastern Ukraine and Kiev’s diplomatic turn toward the European Union that sparked the conflict.
Russian President Vladimir Putin’s office announced Tuesday’s summit that will include the three former Soviet states composing the Kremlin-led Eurasian Customs Union – Russia, Belarus and Kazakhstan – as well as Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko and three top officials of the European Union.
The talks between Putin and Poroshenko are the first since the Ukrainian candy magnate’s June 7 inauguration that restored elected leadership to Kiev after seven months of political unrest. They held a short discussion on the fringes of the 70th anniversary of the Allied D-Day landing in Normandy on June 6.
“Naturally, we cannot ignore the catastrophic situation in Ukraine’s eastern regions, especially Donetsk and Luhansk,” Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov told Itar-Tass on Tuesday. “We can assume that it is going to be part of the agenda.”