Jubilant anti-government demonstrators in Pakistan have claimed victory after tearing down barricades and occupying a key road outside parliament.
The protesters are demanding the resignation of Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif over alleged voting fraud.
Despite the mounting pressure, Mr Sharif’s party said he would not quit, while the country’s powerful army called for a negotiated settlement.
The twin protests led by a famous cricketer-turned-politician and a popular cleric have brought tens of thousands of people into the streets, raising fears of unrest in the nuclear-armed US ally with a history of military coups and dictatorship.
Army spokesman General Asim Saleem Bajwa said on Twitter: “Situation requires patience, wisdom and sagacity from all stakeholders to resolve prevailing impasse.”
He said the government buildings in the so-called Red Zone were a “symbol of state” and were being protected by the army.
Imran Khan, the cricket star leading one of the protests, has called on demonstrators not to enter parliament but warned he would lead his supporters into the premier’s office if Sharif does not step down by this evening.