ISLAMABAD — Pakistani officials struck a deal late Thursday with a fiery Muslim cleric to end four days of anti-government protests by thousands of his supporters that largely paralyzed the capital and put intense pressure on the government.
The demonstration came at a time when the government is facing challenges on several fronts, including from the country’s top court. The Supreme Court ordered the arrest of the prime minister earlier in the week in connection with a corruption case, but the government’s anti-corruption chief refused to act on Thursday, citing a lack of evidence.
Tahir-ul-Qadri, the 61-year-old cleric who led the protests in Islamabad, galvanized many Pakistanis with his message alleging that the nation’s politicians are corrupt thieves who care more about lining their pockets than dealing with the country’s pressing problems, such as electricity shortages, high unemployment and deadly attacks by Islamic militants. He demanded electoral reform to prevent corrupt politicians from standing for elections.