Signs of a possible solution to end the political crisis engulfing Pakistan looked bleak on Sunday as anti-government protest leaders suspended talks with the Nawaz Sharif government following a crackdown on demonstrators with opposition leader Imran Khan asserting that there was no room for negotiations any more.
Pakistani police arrested several dozens of anti-government protestors and after a court order nearly 100 opposition activists had been sent to jail for holding illegal protests and other violations, triggering tense confrontation between demonstrators and police in the centre of the capital.
Addressing his supporters tonight on the completion of one month of protest, the fiery Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf Chief announced to continue protests in front of Parliament till Sharif stepped down.
“There is no room for negotiations any more…We will not leave till the premier resigns,” Khan said.
He also questioned Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif if it is democratic to arrest young workers. “Officials putting young people behind bars should be ashamed of themselves…It is our democratic right to protest peacefully,” he said.
“We cannot rely on the police or judiciary anymore,” the PTI chief said as police yesterday arrested several dozens of protestors from the capital accusing them for violating section 144 which prohibit a gathering of five or more people in Islamabad.
Pakistan Awami Tehreek (PAT) Chief and populist cleric Tahir-ul Qadri, who has been leading parallel demonstrations, also said that he has also suspended talks with the PML-N government following a crackdown on demonstrators demanding ouster of Sharif.
“We have suspended the talks as the government has begun arresting my workers in Islamabad and around the country,” Qadri said, deepening the month-long political impasse in the country.
Both leaders have been agitating since mid-August 14. At least three people have been killed and over 550 injured in violence during the protests.
Both Khan and Qadri have been camping side by side in front of parliament to force Premier Sharif to resign, but he has firmly refused to step down.