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PML-N Chief Nawaz Sharif and PTI Chairman Imran Khan. - File Photo

LAHORE / ISLAMABAD: PML-N president Nawaz Sharif and PTI chairman Imran Khan have demanded that Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani should step down in the wake of his conviction by the Supreme Court and fresh polls should be held immediately to steer the country out of the ‘crisis’ it is in.

According to analysts, the conviction of the prime minister in the contempt case on Thursday has been taken with a heavy heart by many, including Mr Sharif and rights activists, while the PPP appears to have benefited from it, at least in the short run, and it won on Thursday a seat in Multan by-polls which everyone was sure would be bagged by the PML-N.

“The prime minister should immediately step down without prolonging the crisis, dissolve the national and provincial assemblies and hold fresh polls,” Mr Sharif said while talking to a couple of TV channels.

He suggested appointment for a ‘neutral’ and ‘unanimous’ prime minister who would write to the Swiss authorities the Supreme Court wanted to be written and lead the country to general election.

The PML-N chief made an offer of talks with the government if it agreed to form a caretaker set-up.

“If the government is willing, the PML-N will support a caretaker set-up both for the federal and provincial governments.”

Commenting on the verdict, he said it (verdict) was based on truth and reality. “The court must have punished the prime minister with a heavy heart and it is the same with other people because no-one is happy at the conviction.”

He said “the prime minister himself is to be blamed for it as the government lost no chance to ridicule the Supreme Court”.The PML-N chief said if a prime minister convicted by the apex court continued to function it would be a disrespect for his office as well as parliament. He said Mr Gilani should pave way for a new prime minister.

On coalition partners accompanying the prime minister to the Supreme Court, he asked “for how long the coalition partners will defend corruption and embezzlement?”

PTI chairman Imran Khan also demanded immediate resignation of the prime minister and said Mr Gilani had lost moral authority to hold his portfolio.

He warned of a ‘tsunami’ march on Islamabad if the SC judgment was not respected.

He said at a press conference in Islamabad that protest demonstrations against the court verdict had been staged by PPP workers under pressure “to stand by the forces of status quo in order to protect their corruption”.

He warned “if an effort was made to pressurise the judiciary we will launch a movement unprecedented in the country’s history”.

He criticised PPP’s coalition partners whose leaders accompanied the prime minister to the apex court and said they had done so to save themselves from accountability.

Mr Khan said once the accountability process was initiated all the so-called rulers would be behind bars.

Shahbaz Sharif Punjab Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif has said the Supreme Court decision should be implemented and all its constitutional and legal requirements should be met for the supremacy of law and survival of democracy.

He demanded immediate resignation of the prime minister.

He said the state could not be run by ridiculing court verdicts and such a trend could threaten the democratic system.

He said he wished that the prime minister “instead of wasting his energy on protecting the money plundered through corruption had strived for solving problems of the poor”.

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