Confrontation between Pakistan government and anti-government protesters escalated on Thursday with Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif rejecting demands for his resignation and Imran Khan calling off the dialogue with his regime until he quits.
Addressing the Parliament for the first time on the ongoing political crisis, Sharif brushed aside the demand for his resignation saying the country has survived “difficult times” and the current political crisis too shall pass.
“We are not going to be diverted by these things. The journey for the supremacy of Constitution and law in Pakistan will continue with full determination and God willing there will not be any interruption in it,” Sharif said.
On the other side, Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) Chief Imran Khan hardened his stand and called off the dialogue with the government saying that he will not be able to get justice as long as Sharif stays on as Prime Minister.
The hardening of stance came after the failed fifth round of talks even as the Supreme Court ordered the demonstrators to clear the Constitution Avenue by Friday.
Today’s developments came a day after Sharif and powerful Army Chief Gen Raheel Sharif agreed on the need to “expeditiously” resolve the political deadlock amid fears of instability in the coup-prone country.
The talks between the PTI and the government ended in a stalemate with the sticking point being the protesters’ demand of Prime Minister’s resignation.
“Nawaz Sharif is buying time. If we let him stay, he will buy officials and media houses,” Khan said.
Meanwhile, Qadri’s 48-hour ultimatum to Sharif to step down expired today. Qadri announced the deadline for the government to quit on Monday after talks with the government failed to make any headway.
Federal Ministers Ishaq Dar and Zahid Hamid went to the protest site to engage Qadri in the ‘decisive phase’ of talks.
Qadri said the talks with the government have entered a final phase.
Political stalemate has continued for the last two weeks with Khan-led PTI and cleric Tahir-ul-Qadri’s Pakistan Awami Tehreek (PAT) refusing to budge from their demand of the Prime Minister’s resignation over allegations of rigging in last year’s general election and killing of 14 PAT supporters in Lahore on June 17.
FIR against Sharif
After dragging its feet for days, Pakistan government today accepted a key demand of Tahir-ul- Qadri by agreeing to register a murder case against 21 people, including Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, for their alleged role in the clashes that killed 14 supporters of the cleric.
The Lahore Sessions Court hearing the case related to the clashes in Lahore’s Model Town area on June 17 had ordered police to register a murder case earlier this month against 21 persons named by the Qadri-led Pakistan Awami Tahreek (PAT) in its complaint.
Pakistani police, however, had refused to register the murder case against Prime Minister Sharif, his brother and Punjab province Chief Minister Shahbaz and some top Cabinet ministers despite the court order on framing of charges.