ISLAMABAD, Pakistan — Thousands of Pakistani opposition supporters marched toward a fortified zone in the center of Islamabad on Tuesday to press their demands for the resignation of the prime minister.
The protesters, who have been camped out in the capital since Friday, are led by Imran Khan, the former cricketer, and a charismatic cleric named Tahir-ul-Qadri, who run separate campaigns but are united in their opposition to Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif.
The march in an area that contains the parliament, the prime minister's official residence and many Western embassies was widely seen as a final effort by Khan to rally his support base after days of threats and political rhetoric.
But while Khan's tactics have met with much condemnation in the news media, he has succeeded in creating a major crisis for Sharif, whose government came to power in June 2013.
The government has appeared rudderless as the crisis has grown in recent days. Sharif's administration failed to engage Khan and Qadri in negotiations to end the standoff, and appeared to be hoping that the protests would simply fade. But there was little sign of that Tuesday. Police estimated the crowd at between 40,000 and 50,000 people.