Thousands join Pakistan cleric's 'Long March'

Thousands of protesters, led by a Canada-based Pakistani cleric, have begun to march toward the capital Islamabad from the city of Lahore to demand key reforms ahead of elections.

Hundreds of cars, buses and trucks carrying about 7,000 people left the eastern-most city of Lahore on Sunday, expected to grow in number as they pass through towns and villages en route to Islamabad, accompanied by a heavy security presence.

Al Jazeera's Osama Bin Javaid asks who is Tahirul Qadri?

Activists carried the green and white national flag of Pakistan and a mock coffin to symbolise the country's "redundant system".

 Tahirul Qadri , an Islamic scholar and preacher who returned to Pakistan in December after years in Canada, has said he will lead a million people on a "peaceful revolution".

He has accused the government of being corrupt and incompetent, and argued that Pakistan must enact "meaningful" electoral reforms before general elections, scheduled to be held within eight weeks after parliament disbands in mid-March.

"This is a march for protection of human rights, elimination of poverty, supremacy of constitution, rule of law and end of corruption," Qadri said.

The cleric called for what he says is a "democracy march", but the government says the cleric, is part of a "conspiracy" designed to postpone elections and grab power.

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