ISLAMABAD (Reuters) - Pakistan protesters reached the Islamabad parliament building in the early hours of Wednesday morning in their bid to force the prime minister to resign, but did not immediately go inside.
Reuters journalists saw protesters on their way to parliament wearing hard hats and tough leather gloves using cranes and bolt cutters to move aside barricades of shipping containers and barbed wire.
Cleric Tahir ul-Qadri and opposition politician Imran Khan both want Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif to resign.
The government has allowed protests in the capital but said they would not be permitted to march on parliament. But late on Tuesday, tens of thousands of protesters pushed aside the barricades and streamed towards the National Assembly as riot police and paramilitary forces looked on and did not intervene.
About 700 soldiers were also deployed in "Red Zone", the area of the capital which is home to parliament, the prime minister's residence and office and many Western embassies.
No clashes were reported.
"Bldgs in red Zone r symbol of State&being protected by Army, therefore sanctity of these national symbols must be respected," an army spokesman tweeted. "Situation requires patience, wisdom & sagacity from all stakeholders to resolve prevailing impasse through meaningful dialogue."
(Reporting by Katharine Houreld; Editing by Louise Ireland)