Sharif vows protest will change Pakistan's destiny

Pakistan’s most popular opposition leader, Nawaz Sharif, vowed on Wednesday to change the country’s destiny as he urged the masses to defy a government clampdown and join a nationwide protest.

“Today is a defining moment in Pakistan’s history. We can change the destiny of this country. Pakistan stands at a crossroads today and it is your duty to save it,” Sharif told a rally in the northwestern town Abbottabad.

The authorities arrested dozens of political activists and lawyers in a bid to thwart the protest, and outlawed demonstrations in Islamabad, as well as in the provinces of Punjab and Sindh, through which the rally is to proceed.

The protesters want the hugely unpopular President Asif Ali Zardari act on promises to reinstate judges, including supreme court chief justice Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry, sacked by ex-military ruler Pervez Musharraf.

“We want to change this outdated system because it poses a danger to our existence and they want to charge me for sedition,” Sharif told the rally of thousands of supporters, who cheered and waved party banners.

“I ask them [the government] can this law stop the flood of people?”

Organisers hope tens of thousands, if not hundreds of thousands of people will join a four-day protest march to Islamabad, which begins Thursday in the southern city of Karachi and ends in the capital on March 16.

“Allah has put the decision to change the fate of Pakistan in your hands.
It is possible in seven days, even three days. These conspirators will run away with their tails between their legs,” Sharif said.

“We shall meet on March 16 and change the destiny of Pakistan.”

Twice a former prime minister of Pakistan, Sharif was last month banned from contesting elections and is locked in a showdown with Zardari.—AFP

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