Just had a tootle around Islamabad to see what’s what. Basically all quiet. Difficult to reach the Red Zone as many more roads are shut than yesterday. But the view above shows the empty road outside the French Embassy. If that fills with people today then it means the police have lost.
An officer told me they were ready. Yesterday, he said, there was no leadership among the protests so things got out of hand. They expect it to be better co-ordinated today – so less chance of trouble. He said the protests had already started elsewhere in the city, well ahead of Friday prayers.
From there I travelled back past closed shops, deserted car parks and barricaded petrol stations. I’ve never seen the city as shut down as this.
Then as I drove through one of the areas frequented by westerners I found my first demo. They were on their way to what looked like a rally by the National Press Club. A man on a motorbike drove past with a banner saying, “Muslim honour”. All good natured. Let’s hope it stays like that.