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Pakistan opposition to protest in four major cities

Pakistani opposition leader Imran Khan has told his supporters to protest in four major cities as deadlock over the prime minister’s position extended into the third week. Despite mediation by the country’s powerful army, Khan told his 8,000 supporters, who have been sitting outside parliament in Islamabad for more than two weeks, that “huge” demonstrations would be held in Lahore, Karachi, Faisalabad and Multan on Saturday. The announcement follows the collapse of the fourth round of talks between the government and Khan’s Pakistan Tehrik-e-Insaf party and Pakistan Awami Tehrik, the party of controversial cleric Dr Tahir-ul-Qadri on  Friday night. Khan and Qadri had visited army chief General Raheel Sharif separately after both the government and the opposition agreed to accept the army’s mediation to break the stalemate that has crippled the capital since August 14. The two leaders said they had made it clear to the army chief that they would not leave until Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif resigned. The army’s mediation was criticized by other opposition parties, including the Pakistan People's Party. It followed a parliamentary statement by Sharif in which he denied inviting the army to mediate. This was contradicted by the army which said Sharif had asked the army to play a “facilitative role.”

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