ISLAMABAD (AP) — They swarmed into Pakistan’s capital in their thousands, protesters calling for Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif’s resignation and the dissolution of parliament.
The weeklong protests in the capital and around the parliament building have been loud and boisterous but peaceful. But despite the festive atmosphere, there is another side to the demonstrations — the increased demand for food, water and toilets to accommodate the thousands of people who turned out to support cricketer-turned-politician Imran Khan and popular cleric Tahir-ul-Qadri.
The two men led thousands of protesters from the eastern city of Lahore to the gates of parliament to call for Sharif’s ouster over alleged voting fraud.
The protests began to fizzle on Friday after parliament rejected calls for Sharif’s resignation as unconstitutional despite the protests. The resolution, supported by nearly every opposition party, marked a defeat for Khan and Qadri.
Many of the protesters have been spending the nights on blankets, plastic sheets, chairs and makeshift shelters. Heavy rains made it difficult to camp out, but most of the protesters did not want to leave.
“The first night we arrived in Islamabad from Lahore it was raining heavily, we stood for long hours under the rain and when we decided to sleep, we put a plastic sheet on the street, on the wet ground, and slept shivering under the rain,” said Tahira Wali, a 23-year-old university student. She had been protesting for six days.
Nearby, Naseem Yaseen, a 37-year-old mother of seven, also marched to Islamabad with her husband and children. She sat on a plastic sheet with her two-month-old infant son.
“We are suffering from lack of food and water, and early in the morning we spend hours waiting at the bathroom for our turns to come. But with all those difficulties, it’s nothing compared to the life we have. I am ready to do anything to have a better life for me and my family,” Yaseen said.
Here are a series of images by Associated Press photographer Muhammed Muheisen of protesters spending their nights on the streets of Islamabad.
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