A Muslim cleric leading tens of thousands of Pakistanis in an anti-government demonstration called on the country's president to negotiate with him Thursday.

Tahir ul Qadri gave President Asif Ali Zardari a deadline of 3 p.m. local time to come to the area occupied by his legions of supporters near the parliament in central Islamabad.

While that time passed with no visit by the president, the government did recognize the protests, which have lasted since Monday, in another way. A delegation from the governing coalition will visit Qadri on Thursday to hold a dialogue on his demands that the government be dissolved immediately, according to Pakistan's Information Ministry.