Pakistan Opposition Stages Protest Seeking Premier’s Ouster
Firebrand cleric Maulana Fazlur Rehman, center, and head of the Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam party waves to his supporters during an anti-government march, in Islamabad, Pakistan. (Source: PTI)

Pakistan Opposition Stages Protest Seeking Premier’s Ouster

(Bloomberg) -- Members of opposition parties in Pakistan are staging a sit-in protest in capital Islamabad, demanding the ouster of Prime Minister Imran Khan over his handling of the economy.

Opposition cleric Fazl-ur-Rehman of Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam-Fazl is leading the protests, which are supported by Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz’s Shahbaz Sharif and Pakistan People’s Party chairman Bilawal Bhutto Zardari. Khan has refused to resign.

“Our history is full of movements,” Rehman said. “We will remain in the arena until we get rid of the government.”

The protests are the first serious challenge to the ruling government, amid high inflation and record borrowing costs that have boosted the cost of living and put pressure on businesses in the South Asian nation. The disruptions come amid a review of the economy by the International Monetary Fund, which earlier this year approved a $6 billion loan to help Pakistan avert a balance-of-payments crisis.

The IMF program is expected to require Pakistan to boost tax revenue, and let market forces have greater control over the rupee, among other measures, which have been opposed by traders and some political parties.

Akram Khan Durrani, leader of the opposition in the provincial assembly of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, said the protesters could take further measures including having their lawmakers resign from office and taking civil action like blocking highways.

©2019 Bloomberg L.P.

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