Pakistani police fire tear gas to disperse marchers in Islamabad

Police in the Pakistani capital Tuesday fired tear gas shells to disperse participants of a long- march to stop them from heading to the parliament building and the high security zone, local media reported.

The marchers, who spent night on the main route to the parliament building, removed the containers that were parked to stop them from moving further to the security zone.

Thousands of riot policemen have been deployed in the capital to maintain peace and protect the parliament building and diplomatic enclave. The police fired tear gas to keep the marchers away from the security zone. However the participants did not disperse and again started moving to the security zone.

Pakistani religious leader, Dr Tahir-ul-Qadri, who led thousands of his supporters, entered Islamabad late Monday might to mount pressure on the government to introduce "electoral reforms" to stop corrupt elements from taking part in elections.

Qadri demanded removal of the federal and four provincial governments by 11 am, or face his marchers. He said the marchers will not leave Islamabad unless their demands are accepted.

The Prime Minister Raja Pervez Ashraf rejected Dr Qadri's demands as unconstitutional.

Qadri started the march from the eastern city of Lahore on Sunday and after 30-hour journey they reached the capital territory, where he will speak to the marchers and will present a charter of demands.

Qadri's spokesman Omar Abbasi said that the marchers will stay in Islamabad for several days.

A stage was erected on the city's Blue Area just two kilometers away from the parliament building. Qadri spoke behind bullet-proof glasses over security concerns.

Officials said that over 20,000 police and members of other law enforcement agencies have been deployed in Islamabad to ensure peace during the rally.

Interior Minister, Rehman Malik, said that he allowed the marchers to move until D-Chowk, an area just few hundreds meters away from the parliament. He, however, said that the marchers will not be allowed to cross the Red Zone, which houses diplomatic enclave, parliament house, president house and several other important buildings.

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