Pakistan prepares to launch a selective crackdown against anti-government protesters demanding the resignation of Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, warning demonstrators against storming government buildings. Mana Rabiee reports.
Tear gas hovered over the streets of Islamabad, as sporadic clashes broke out across again the Pakistani capital. Protesters have paralyzed city streets, trying for weeks now to bring down the government of Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif. Theyr'e angry over last year's election that swept him back into power, saying the results were fraudulent. The protesters are led in part by opposition leader Imran Khan, a hero cricket player turned politician. Khan had earlier apologized for his supporters after they stormed the building of a state TV broadcaster. But as evening fell and the clashes subsided, Khan again urged Sharif to stand down, using cricket to send his message. (SOUNDBITE) (Urdu) OPPOSITION LEADER, IMRAN KHAN, SAYING: "Your inning is over. Why aren't you going back to the pavilion? Why are you showing stubbornness?" The government tell Reuters it's preparing to launch a selective crackdown against the protesters. It's warning them not to storm any more government buildings. Defense Minister Khwaja Asif: (SOUNDBITE) (English) PAKISTAN'S DEFENSE MINISTER KHWAJA ASIF, SAYING: "If not mass arrests, at least selective use of force can be done today. But we will still be very careful that the situation doesn't aggravate." In this nuclear-armed nation, power has often changed hands through military coups, not elections. So how the crisis ends will be ultimately decided by the army. If the protests get out of hand, the military could step in and impose a curfew or even martial law. Sharif will address both houses of parliament on Tuesday...an apparent effort to show that he is firmly in control.