Dharna deadlock: Govt, PTI negotiators begin talks to end crisis

Published August 20, 2014
Pakistani opposition politician Imran Khan gestures during a protest march - AFP
Pakistani opposition politician Imran Khan gestures during a protest march - AFP
Pakistan Awami Tehreek chief Dr Tahirul Qadri (C) is surrounded by Pakistani supporters as he addresses demonstrators in front of the Parliament during the “Revolution March” protest in Islamabad on August 20, 2014. — Photo by AFP
Pakistan Awami Tehreek chief Dr Tahirul Qadri (C) is surrounded by Pakistani supporters as he addresses demonstrators in front of the Parliament during the “Revolution March” protest in Islamabad on August 20, 2014. — Photo by AFP
Supporters of Pakistan Awami Tehreek chief Dr Tahirul Qadri gather as security personnel arrive in front of the Parliament during the “Revolution March” protest in Islamabad on August 20, 2014. — Photo by AFP
Supporters of Pakistan Awami Tehreek chief Dr Tahirul Qadri gather as security personnel arrive in front of the Parliament during the “Revolution March” protest in Islamabad on August 20, 2014. — Photo by AFP
Supporters of Pakistan Awami Tehreek chief Dr Tahirul Qadri gather in front of the Parliament during the “Revolution March” protest in Islamabad on August 20, 2014 — Photo by AFP
Supporters of Pakistan Awami Tehreek chief Dr Tahirul Qadri gather in front of the Parliament during the “Revolution March” protest in Islamabad on August 20, 2014 — Photo by AFP
Screengrab of security personnel in the Red Zone
Screengrab of security personnel in the Red Zone
A supporter of Imran Khan flashes victory sign during a protest march against the PML-N government in Islamabad. — Photo by AFP
A supporter of Imran Khan flashes victory sign during a protest march against the PML-N government in Islamabad. — Photo by AFP

Islamabad is heating up. Imran Khan has threatened to storm the Prime Minister House if Nawaz Sharif does not resign. Pakistan Awami Tehrik chief Tahirul Qadri has promised his followers that accountability would be ensured for the “corrupt” rulers.

The army has broken its silence and has publicly urged both the government and the protesting political parties to exercise restraint and find a way out of the crisis through dialogue.

Follow our live updates below.

01:23 | We do not operate on ISPR instructions: Qureshi

Talking to media, after a dialogue session, Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) leader Shah Mahmood Qureshi said that the PTI delegation met government’s delegation and discussed the political stalemate in the country.

He said the PTI delegation presented it six conditions and discussed the logic behind them.

“They will get back to us tomorrow after examining our demands,” he said.

In response to a question regarding the timing of the PTI’s negotiation, coming after the Ispr press release, Qureshi became irked and said, “We do not operate on ISPR instructions.”

Ahsan iqbal, a member of the government’s delegation told media that both parties understand that we cannot afford this political crisis.

He said that PTI has presented their demands and we will consult with our leadership and respond them in the next round of dialogue.

12.15 | PTI’s six-point charter of demands

1) Resignation of the prime minister and Punjab chief minister

2) Audit of the government’s 14-month expenses

3) Bringing culprits of the alleged vote fraud in the 2013 general elections to book

4) Electoral reforms prior to fresh elections

5) Re-elections for all assemblies

6) Installation of impartial interim government before new elections

11.56 | PTI gives govt delegation six-point charter of demands

Talks between PTI leadership and a government delegation is currently ongoing at a local hotel in Islamabad, reports suggest.

PTI delegation comprises of Shah Mehmood Qureshi, Jahangir Tareen, Arif Alvi and Asad Umar while the government is being represented by Abdul Qadir Baloch, Ahsan Iqbal and Ijazul Haq among others.

The PTI delegation has reportedly presented a six-point charter of demands to the government team.

Interior Minister Chaudhry Nisar is heading the government delegation.

11.46 | PM to address National Assembly on Thursday

Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif will address the National Assembly tomorrow on Thursday, local media reported.

He is expected to take the nation and the Parliament into confidence on the prevailing political situation.

11.26 | JI delegation reaches PTI sit-in

A delegation of Jamaat-i-Islami (JI), headed by its Amir, Sirajul Haq, has reached the PTI sit-in. They hope to convince Imran Khan to diffuse the rising political tension.

JI leader Liaquat Baloch is also present on the occasion.

11.16 | Govt committee optimistic that dialogue will resolve crisis

Speaking to media representatives, MQM’s Haider Abbas Rizvi expressed optimism that the prevailing political crisis would be resolved through dialogue since both Imran Khan and Dr Tahirul Qadri have agreed to negotiate with the government.

He said that the next round of their talks with the PAT and PTI leadership would be held on Thursday evening.

Accompanying Rizvi, Ijazul Haq said that their responsibility and role would be to facilitate the talks and they would not debate on the negotiation agenda.

10.43 | Will give my life but won’t back down over demands, says Imran

PTI chief Imran Khan told his supporters that he was prepared to give up his life but he would not back down over the demands that he has made of Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif’s government.

"I will not leave this place until Nawaz Sharif resigns," said Imran Khan.

“We will make a new Pakistan,” he said during his speech.

“If the current rulers do not resign, then this nation will be the slaves of their children,” said the PTI chief.

“Those who rigged the elections have been rewarded with positions of power,” Imran Khan said.

10.27 | FIR must be registered against Model Town culprits, demands PAT

The PAT during its negotiations with the government committee has stuck to one of its central demands of having those responsible for the Model Town incident brought to book.

PAT’s Central President Raheeq Abbassi spoke to the media and stated that FIR against those responsible for Model Town must be met.

“After the government resigns, action must be taken against culprits,” says Abbassi.

10.07 | Govt committee meets with Qadri for negotiations

The PAT’s committee has met government's team of negotiators, in the latest attempt to break the deadlock between the two opposing factions.

The government committee includes Abdul Qadir Baloch, Ahsan Iqbal, Haider Abbas Rizvi and Ijazul Haq.

Khawaja Saad Rafique was not part of government committee in the latest negotiations with Tahirul Qadri.

9.40 | Maryam Nawaz says no

As Imran vowed to stay put in D-chowk, Maryam Nawaz Sharif took to Twitter to send a strong message to the protesters — "U can spend your whole life in the container but Nawaz Sharif will NOT resign."

9:25pm | D-chowk is 'Azadi' square

"Just like Tahrir Square [in Cairo], this [D-chowk] is 'Azadi' square," Imran Khan announced, much to the delight of his supporters.

Imran vowed to continue the dharna in the Red Zone till the time Nawaz Sharif resigns.

"It is not easy to sleep here," he laughs, pointing at his mobile stage, "But i am sleeping here for you [supporters]."

9:20pm | The PTI committee is ready

Imran Khan said that his party has prepared a committee for negotiating with the government, but it will not move ahead unless the prime minister steps down.

"You resign, make an independent committee which investigates [rigging] and then we can proceed," he said to Nawaz.

Hitting out at CM Punjab Shahbaz Sharif for the deaths in the Model Town incident, he said, "Shahbaz Sharif will not be prosecuted while Nawaz is on top."

9:10pm | A message to Khursheed Shah

Imran advised Opposition Leader in the NA, Syed Khursheed Shah not to act as a "personal secretary" of PM Sharif.

"Nawaz Sharif is hiding behind the Army due to fear of the public," Imran said.

The crowd is chanting slogans of "Go, Nawaz, Go!" With the 'Azadi' march in its fifth day, supporters look charged and energetic.

9:05pm | 'Pity' for Nawaz?

"I felt sorry for Nawaz," Imran said, much to the dismay of his supporters, "But listen — I felt bad for him because if we storm PM House and his heart fails then I don't want that on my conscience," he said.

He said that he would order CM KP Pervaiz Khattak to hold re-elections in the province if this many people shouted 'Go Imran Go'.

9:00pm | Imran lashes out at N-league

Imran Khan lambasted PML-N workers for attacking Shah Mehmood Qureshi's home in Multan.

“In Lahore it was Gullu Butt … in Gujranwala it was Pomi Butt who pelted stones on PTI long march … and in Multan today it was Billu Butt who attacked Shah Mehmood Quershi’s house," he said.

"We have decided to negotiate with you Nawaz Sharif, but listen carefully — the negotiation will start with the resignation of PM Sharif. How can a probe under Nawaz Sharif be transparent?"

He claimed that around 40 to 50,000 votes have been proven illegitimate during the verification of 14 constituencies being probed by the courts

He also apologised to the crowd for his sore throat. "Forgive me, but after these back to back speeches my throat…is not working so well," he said.

8.40 | If music be the food of dharna... play on!

From Essa Khelvi to Rahat Fateh Ali songs, PTI rallies have the best music — all thanks to DJ Butt. This disc jockey has been organising music for Imran Khan's jalsas from the very start, and is proud to be flown to every dharna location (from Khyber to Karachi).

Undoubtedly, the crowd loves the entertainment factor and often breaks into dance as the music is turned up.

PTI senior leaders (most recently CM Pervaiz Khattak) often join the festivities, but Imran's signature move remains the fist pump. Below is a screengrab of PTI workers enjoying some music:

8.20pm | Imran addresses crowd

As usual, the PTI Chairman is in high spirits as he addresses the crowd. He tells supporters that there were reports that people would not turn up due to high temperatures, but he appreciated the turnout.

Senior leaders Javed Hashmi, Shah Mehmood Qureshiand Arif Alvi are standing beside him.

Imran last night had threatened to storm PM House if Nawaz did not step down.

“Nawaz Sharif listen to me, Imran Khan will stay in this container if no one turns up at the sit-in,” says Imran

7:45pm | TuQ's negotiators

TUQ has announced a negotiating committee comprising Ghulam Mustafa Khar, Khurram Nawaz Gandapur and Sardar Asif Ahmed Ali.

This committee will soon talk to the government delegation to find a solution to the political deadlock.

7:30pm | The 'inquilab' sleeps

While some sleep, many protesters are busy taking selfies and family photos outside Parliament. For many of the protesters, this is their first visit to Islamabad.

 Supporters of Pakistan Awami Tehreek (PAT) sleeping on green belt of Constitution avenue during Revolution March. — Photo by INP
Supporters of Pakistan Awami Tehreek (PAT) sleeping on green belt of Constitution avenue during Revolution March. — Photo by INP

7:20pm | Nawaz thanks Altaf

Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif thanks MQM chief Altaf Hussain for his role played for the sake of democracy, according to DawnNews.

The premier extended his gratitude during a telephonic conversation held with Sindh Governor Ishratul Ibad Khan.

The two discussed the country's prevailing situation during the conversation.

Altaf Hussain also welcomed talks between the negotiating and PAT. He also thanked Dr Tahirul Qadri for accepting the offer of the government's negotiating team.

MQM leader Haider Abbas Rizvi is part of the government delegation that met with PAT to end the political deadlock.

7:10pm | Imran trusts the SC

PTI Chairman Imran Khan said he trusts the Supreme Court of Pakistan and will abide by its verdict on alleged rigging in the 2013 polls.

He added that PM Nawaz Sharif is Pakistan’s Hosni Mubarak and alleged that Sharif had killed innocent people in Lahore’s Model Town. He also said that those involved in rigging the last year’s polls should be brought to the book through Article 6 of the Constitution.

He remained unflinching in his demand that dialogue with the government is only possible after resignation of the PM.

6:55pm | PAT softening on govt?

PAT representative Khurram Nawaz Gandapur spoke to the media after meeting with Saad Rafique, Haider Abbas Rizvi and Abdul Qadir Baloch.

"Our leader had said that the negotiations should reach a conclusion which is in the best interests of the people," Gandapur said.

"The delegation will visit us again in an hour-and-a-half in the presence of the Sunni Itthead Council representatives. I would once again thank Haider Abbas Rizvi and Ejazul Haq for highlighting our concerns."

"We have yet to put forward our demands and they would be presented once the government delegation visits us again. I am hope of a positive result to arise out of our efforts."

Khawaja Saad Rafique said, "We have no ill-intentions and I believe these people have no ill intentions either."

 Screengrab of the power huddle
Screengrab of the power huddle

6:50pm | The 'luxury' container

Qadri's airconditioned container is reportedly bullet and bomb proof.

6:45pm | A message of love

A government delegation comprising Khawaja Saad Rafique, Ijazul Haq, Haider Abbas Rizvi and Abdul Qadir Baloch has reached at the PAT sit-in to negotiate with Dr Tahirul Qadri.

Rafique reportedly said that the delegation has brought a ‘message of love’ for Dr Qadri.

PAT chairman Tahirul Qadri asked his supporters to stop shouting slogans against the government and give respect to the delegation that had arrived to hold talks with him.

6:40pm | Army wants end to impasse

The meeting between Chief of Army Staff General Raheel Sharif and Punjab Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif ended with emphasis on ending through dialogue the prevailing political deadlock that had emerged in wake of PTI and PAT protests in Islamabad.

Although it was earlier reported that Interior Minister Ch Nisar also attended this meeting, later Defence Minister Khawaja Asif clarified that only CM Punjab had met with the army chief.

— Mateen Haider

6:25pm | Police moves into D-chowk

A heavy contingent of police personnel are moving into D-chowk to protect state infrastructure. Imran Khan had announced that he will march into PM House today if Nawaz Sharif does not step down.

 Screengrab of police personnel walking into D-chowk
Screengrab of police personnel walking into D-chowk

6:20pm | Delegation leaves to meet Qadri

A mediating delegation comprising Muttahida Qaumi Movement's (MQM) Haider Abbas Rizvi, Pakistan Muslim League - Nawaz's (PML-N) Khwaja Saad Rafique who is also the Federal Railwas Minister and Safron MInister Abdul Qadir Baloch departed from the Prime MInister House to hold talks with Pakistan Awami Tehreek (PAT) chief Dr Tahirul Qadri.

6:15pm | Imran on stage

PTI chairman Imran Khan reached D-Chowk where a large number of his supporters had gathered. The PTI chief made a brief appearance on stage following which he sat to one side.

The number of female participants was considerably low today as compared to previous days of the march.

6.10pm | Situation is precarious

Military analyst Ayesha Siddiqui warned that the situation was very precarious.

“From the military perspective, they have tried and tested Nawaz Sharif a third time and they feel disappointed. Why would they let him be?” she told AFP.

But Hamid Gul, the former head of the powerful Inter-Services Intelligence agency, said that despite the military's differences with Sharif, he thought they were unwilling to get involved.

“They (Khan and Qadri) are trying to drag the army into it, to pull the army, but the army is very reluctant,” Gul told AFP, adding that the crisis would inevitably weaken Sharif.

“If Nawaz wants to stay in power he has ho choice” but to listen to the army, Gul said.

6:05pm | SMQ house attacked

Pakistan Muslim League - Nawaz supporters reached the Multan residence of Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf leader Shah Mehmood Qureshi to staged protests.

Workers reportedly banged their fists at his gate. A large contingent of policemen reached the spot and forced the protesters away from the gate of Qureshi's house.

The protesters shouted slogans against the PTI leader and said that no one had the right to hurt the Parliament.

"What kind of doublespeak is this from the government? On one hand they are offering dialogue and on the other they are resorting to violence," Qureshi said to a television channel.

6.00pm | Imran to address supporters

Imran Khan will deliver a speech to the participants of the Azadi march after Maghrib prayers, according to PTI leader Jahangir Tareen.

Tareen added that their party chief would take the nation into confidence before taking any more steps.

However, he said he cannot comment on the party's willingness to enter negotiations with the government.

5:30pm | PAT workers end siege of PM Secretariat

Following negotiations between the Inspector General of Islamabad police and the PAT leadership, workers have started to disperse from outside the building.

The PAT workers had encircled the building on the call of Dr Qadri.

5.10 pm | PTI's Punjab MPAs hand in resignations to Mehmoodur Rasheed

29 PTI MPAs have submitted their resignations to opposition leader in the Punjab Assembly Mian Mehmoodur Rasheed.

Rasheed will hand these over to party chief Imran Khan. — Arif Malik reported from Lahore

5:11pm | 'Deadlock will end'

MQM's Haider Abbas Rizvi says:

I want to thank Tahirul Qadri for giving us respect. He would have held talks with us already if he hadn't gone on the stage but he had. We appeal to the government to remove barricades and containers so that the food supplies for PAT protesters can be transported. Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif should direct CDA to ensure that the people here do not go without clean water.

"I have a feeling that this deadlock will end...Qadri has reacted very positively to our approach."

"We'll continue to channel between the two sides...in order to resolve the crisis," Rizvi said.

Ejaz ul Haq says:

"I'm happy that Qadri says he hasn't said no to dialogue."

"I'm very hopeful that talks will begin soon...regardless of what PAT's agenda is, we should discuss it."

5:02pm | PTI backtracks on dialogue

We have decided not to immediately enter negotiations with the government, says PTI leader Shah Mehmood Qureshi.

The party decided that the foremost fundamental condition is that the PM step down, and that no dialogue can be initiated unless the resignation takes place.

Earlier, Qureshi had said that the party is willing to sit at the negotiating table with the government.

4:55pm | 'Protest to continue'

Qadri says the protest will continue, but urges supporters not to resort to violence or antagonise security forces.

"Don't block anyone's path, even if he is an enemy...stay peaceful, democratic and lawful."

He instructs PAT workers not to enter the Pakistan Secretariat premises.

Separately, PAT activists surrounded the vehicle of State Minister for Education and Trainings Balighur Rehman. The minister managed to escape the scene unharmed after police intervention.

Activists had also encircled the vehicle of Pir Muhammad Aminul Hasnat Shah, the Minister of State for Religious Affairs and Interfaith Harmony in a similar manner. — Irfan Haider reported from Islamabad

4:50pm | Familiar rhetoric

Referring to the Model Town tragedy, Qadri questions, "if an FIR is not registered despite the orders of a court, then tell me what kind of a law prevails in the country?"

"No one approached me for talks. Why does the government lie and say i had refused to hold dialogue?" the PAT Chief reiterates again.

4.25pm | I have never rejected talks: Qadri

PAT chief Tahirul Qadri.
PAT chief Tahirul Qadri.

Tahirul Qadri said I have never rejected the path of talks.

Pointing towards Haider Abbas Rizvi and Ijazul Haq who were standing close to the PAT chief, Qadri said ask them if I have said no to talks to anyone.

He said no one came to me for talks and I haven’t said no to anyone.

Addressing media representatives, Qadri said we regard the Parliament as a sacred institution.

However, I do not agree with those who indulge in state terrorism in the name of democracy.

Qadri evoked the memory of the 14 supporters of his party who were killed during the Model Town tragedy in Lahore.

The PAT chief said he was refuting the charge levelled against him that he and his party were engaged in a movement to derail democracy in Pakistan.

It is those who have abused their power to cause harm to the public who are in fact derailing democracy.

He asked what the PML-N leaders would have done if any of their loved ones were harmed, adding that the Sharif brothers ”would have employed the services of thugs and murderers” to take revenge if an FIR was not registered.

Qadri said he and his supporters were peace-loving and law abiding citizens of the country.

He referred to the court’s ruling calling for the registration of cases against the Sharif brothers and other senior PML-N leaders over the Model Town tragedy.

4.20pm | Spotted outside his 'luxury' container — Qadri

 Pakistan Awami Tehreek chief Dr Tahirul Qadri (C) is surrounded by Pakistani supporters as he addresses demonstrators in front of the Parliament during the “Revolution March” protest in Islamabad on August 20, 2014. — Photo by AFP
Pakistan Awami Tehreek chief Dr Tahirul Qadri (C) is surrounded by Pakistani supporters as he addresses demonstrators in front of the Parliament during the “Revolution March” protest in Islamabad on August 20, 2014. — Photo by AFP

4:15pm | PML-N meets army chief

Federal Interior MInister Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan and CM Punjab Shahbaz Sharif met with Chief of Army Staff General Raheel Sharif on Wednesday to discuss the situation in the federal capital in wake of the protests being staged by the Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf and Pakistan Awami Tehreek.

The meeting specifically discussed the security challenges which had arisen after supporters of the PAT besieged the Parliament premises.

This is the second meeting between the two; earlier in June Chaudhry Nisar and Punjab Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif had held a meeting with the Army chief.

Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif had also held a meeting with General Raheel Sharif to discuss the prevailing security in the country and specifically Islamabad.

— Mateen Haider reported from Islamabad

4:00pm | PTI's 6 demands

PTI’s media advisor Faisal Vawda told Dawn.com that the PTI’s 6 demands to the government include:

  1. The resignations of Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif and Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif

  2. Electoral reforms

  3. That the Election Commission of Pakistan be disbanded and reconstituted

  4. That recounts take place on certain constituencies

  5. That action be taken against those involved in rigging

  6. Re-elections

3:50pm | MQM to meet Qadri

MQM’s Haider Abbas Rizvi is to meet Dr Tahirul Qadri in a bid to end the political deadlock resulting from PTI, PAT workers laying siege to Parliament.

Farooq Sattar told Dawn.com that the country needs a solution to the political situation, and that nothing will be achieved from breaking barriers and storming into PM House.

“This is a test of nerves. It is psychological warfare. The biggest test for both sides is to show patience and not let anyone resort to violence.

When asked to comment on speculations that the military will intervene, he said: “The army has played a role in Pakistan’s history. They have previously declared coups and taken the reins. But the statement that came from the ISPR last night ws necessary; it was important for the military to define their position.”

To the PTI and PAT, Sattar said this is the last opportunity for dialogue. “Altaf Hussain from day one has said that our first concern is stability of Pakistan, and also that democracy should prevail.”

3:45pm | LEAs step up

Police personnel are taking control of government offices to provide further security, Dawn.com correspondent Irfan Haider reports.

A large number of government employees who work in the premises of the Red Zone are on holiday today. The remaining government employees are inside their offices fearing a possible violent clash.

 Supporters of Pakistan Awami Tehreek chief Dr Tahirul Qadri gather as security personnel arrive in front of the Parliament during the “Revolution March” protest in Islamabad on August 20, 2014. — Photo by AFP
Supporters of Pakistan Awami Tehreek chief Dr Tahirul Qadri gather as security personnel arrive in front of the Parliament during the “Revolution March” protest in Islamabad on August 20, 2014. — Photo by AFP

3:40pm | Imran's fresh rallying call

"I want all Pakistanis 2 get here breaking all barriers. Warning police 2 release r ppl or v will punish them 4 unlawfully detaining r ppl"

3:35pm | Supporters gain ground

Several protesters are at the Pakistan Secretariat and have taken control of the main gate of the secretariat building.

Iftikhar Shirazi reports that protesters have also taken control of routes to Punjab House and the police is not stopping them from approaching anywhere or offering any resistance.

No violence or clash has taken place between protesters and law enforcement personnel so far.

Protesters are marching on and although the police is alert but offering no resistance.

Three key doors of the Parliament House are under the control of the protesters. To leave the Parliament House, parliamentarians would have to use another route.

3:30pm | PM chairs consultative meeting

Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif is chairing a consultative meeting on the country's political crisis with senior PML-N leaders in attendance.

Mateen Haider reports that the meeting was taking into consideration the prevailing political situation.

In the meeting, the premier made it clear that the security of important government buildings should not be compromised.

Governor of Punjab Chaudhry Sarwar has been given the mandate to reach out to PAT leadership.

Another political figure will soon be given the mandate to lead talks with the PTI leadership.

3:15pm | PTI agrees to talks with govt

PTI's Shah Mehmood Qureshi told Dawn News that PTI had agreed to negotiate with the government.

"We discussed amongst ourselves that if it comes to talks what our position will be... The aim is to come out of this deadlock. We wish that the govt had seriously considered our demands," he said.

"Our strategy is clear, we want to strengthen democracy and not derail it as opposed to the impression that is being given."

He said that six conditions will be put forth on the negotiating table but said that he will not give more details to the media.

"Our line is clear — we want to remain peaceful," he said.

3:10pm | Large number of PAT, PTI workers

According to intelligence and police officials on ground, there are around 20,000 PTI and PAT supporters present in the Red Zone right now with the majority from PAT. Local workers of the PTI are likely to reach the dharna around 5 pm.

Police personnel say that in compliance will government directions, they will not fire any bullets at the crowd.

3:05pm | Map of Red Zone

 Map shows possible routes the protesters could take to reach their intended destination, the PM House.
Map shows possible routes the protesters could take to reach their intended destination, the PM House.

3:05pm | MNAs take alternative exit route

Parliamentarians were forced to leave Parliament house via a back entrance onto Bari Imam road, Dawn.com correspondent Irfan Haider reports.

The situation on Constitution Avenue is very critical, with PAT protesters active and charged. as yet while a large number of female participants are present in the crowd of the PAT.

 Supporters of Pakistan Awami Tehreek chief Dr Tahirul Qadri gather in front of the Parliament during the “Revolution March” protest in Islamabad on August 20, 2014 — Photo by AFP
Supporters of Pakistan Awami Tehreek chief Dr Tahirul Qadri gather in front of the Parliament during the “Revolution March” protest in Islamabad on August 20, 2014 — Photo by AFP

3.00pm | Siraj urges for solution

Jamaat-e-Islami (JI) chief Siraj-ul-Haq in a press conference said that it is unfortunate that the power to resolve the current political impasse lies with the army instead of the political leadership.

“The decision making power has gone from Islamabad to Pindi… it is the failure of political leaders and a loss for politics that when elected leaders fight the army should come to the resuce," he said. "The announcement issued by the establishment last night to enter dialogue should have come from the political leadership.”

2:40pm | Sri Lanka President cancels Pak visit

Sri Lankan President Mahinda Rajapaksa has cancelled his visit to Pakistan in the wake of the country’s political situation.

During the visit which was scheduled to begin on August 22, the Sri Lankan president was scheduled to hold meetings with Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, President Mamnoon Hussain and Chief of Army Staff General Raheel Sharif.

Read more here.

2:30pm | Army takes control of security

Below is a video showing soldiers of the Pakistan Army taking position outside state institutions. As the protesters marched on to the Constitution Avenue on Tuesday night, the army had urged both the government and the protesting political parties to exercise restraint and find a way out of the crisis through dialogue.

“Situation requires patience, wisdom and sagacity from all stakeholders to resolve prevailing impasse through meaningful dialogue in larger national and public interest,” military spokesman Maj Gen Asim Bajwa said in a late night statement.

2:30pm | Dangerous precedent, says Rana Mashood

Speaking to a news channel, Punjab Law Minister Rana Mashood said the provincial government has reports that some protesters are paid.

"What will they achieve from entering PM house?" he asked. "They have already broken the law, will they also break the constitution? If you look at social media you will see that even those who supported Imran have openly started saying that they cannot support this behaviour. They say anyone — even terrorists — can bring a crowd and do the same for forced negotiations… this has set a dangerous precedent."

2:21pm | Situation remains tense

Pakistan Awami Tehreek (PAT) workers have left Parliament and have instead reached the Pakistan Secretariat.

Workers of both the PTI and PAT are marching in multiple directions, while security forces surround sensitive installations.

2:17pm | Supreme Court issues notice to Imran, Qadri

The Supreme Court of Pakistan issued notices to Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) chairman Imran Khan and Pakistan Awami Tehreek (PAT) chief Dr Tahirul Qadri during the hearing of a petition filed by the Lahore High Court's Multan Bar Association.

A five-member bench headed by Chief Justice of Pakistan Justice Nasirul Mulk admitted the petition, filed by the Lahore High Court's Multan Bar Association and issued notices to the concerned parties while adjourning the next hearing of the case until tomorrow (Thursday 9:30 am).

Read more

2:09pm | Storm the PM house?

Protesters are advancing towards the PM house, apparently in a bid to storm the building.

A massive contingent of police and other security forces stand on-guard outside.

A clash seems imminent.

2:00pm | PM enjoys support of all parliamentarians: Khawaja Asif

Speaking on TV, Defence Minister Khawaja Asif said Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif enjoyed the support of all parliamentarians, adding that he could not be removed from his office in an unconstitutional manner.

The defence minister said that if the tradition of protests continued, then every second person would gather people in order to form a government.

Asif said on no account would Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif step down from office.

1:30pm | Cannot allow attack on Parliament: Shazia Marri

Addressing the National Assembly session, Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) MNA Shazia Marri said we would not let anyone attack the Constitution and the Parliament, adding that freedom did not mean disparaging the Parliament’s supremacy.

Marri said those who were instigating civil disobedience were also a part of the government.

“I am going to hold everyone who has abused the Constitution of Pakistan responsible,” Marri said.

1:00 pm | Qadri orders activists to lay siege to Parliament

Pakistan Awami Tehreek chief Dr Tahirul Qadri on Wednesday said that he had allowed legislators to enter the National Assembly so that "all the prey was gathered at one spot." He also ordered supporters to lay siege to Parliament.

In a speech delivered to his supporters outside parliament Qadri warned the government that the 'revolution' had not begun on Aug 14 but had been in process for more than three weeks. "I cannot let the elderly and sick remain in agony. I cannot control my people for long. If too much control is exerted then my supporters will turn against me," he added.

12:30 pm | Parties united for protecting constitution: Fazl

Addressing a session of the National Assembly on Wednesday, Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam Fazl (JUI-F) chief Maulana Fazlur Rehman said that all the political parties were united on the same page for protecting the constitution and the Parliament.

The JUI-F leader also said that they wanted to safeguard the country from plunging into a civil war.

12:15 pm | PM Nawaz attends NA session

Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif reached the Parliament House as a session of the National Assembly commenced on Wednesday.

The assembly session is being presided over by Speaker Ayaz Sadiq, as thousands of anti-government protesters remain outside the National Assembly building.

The meeting came as Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf chief Imran Khan threatened to storm the Prime Minister House if Nawaz Sharif does not resign before the expiry of a deadline given by his party.

Last night supporters of the PTI and Pakistan Awami Tehreek marched towards the Parliament House in a move directed to take resignation from the premier.

12:00 pm | Punjab Governor Sarwar to meet PTI leadership

Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif on Wednesday has decided to make another attempt to engage Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) chief Imran Khan in talks to hear his demands.

The decision was taken at a meeting chaired by the premier at the Prime Minister House in Islamabad.

Credible sources told Dawn that the meeting was attended by Punjab Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif, Punjab Governor Chaudhry Muhammad Sarwar as well as other key ministers and Pakistan Muslim League - Nawaz leaders.

The meeting discussed the overall situation of the country and it was decided that Sarwar would contact both PTI and Pakistan Awami Tehreek (PAT) leadership in order to convince them to call off their marches.

The PTI and PAT have been protesting against alleged rigging in the 2013 elections and are calling for the resignation of PM Nawaz whose government they call the outcome of a rigged election.

Also read: Saad Rafique denies statement on PM-Imran meeting

11:45 am | 'No coup'

Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif has been assured by military that there will be no coup, but in return he must “share space with the army”, according to a government source who was privy to recent talks between the two sides.

Last week, Sharif dispatched two emissaries to consult with the army chief. He wanted to know if the military was quietly engineering the twin protest movements by Imran Khan and Tahirul Qadri, or if, perhaps, it was preparing to stage a coup.

According to a government insider with a first-hand account of the meeting, Sharif's envoys returned with good news and bad: there will be no coup but if he wants his government to survive, from now on it will have to share space with the army.

Read more.

11:30 am | Saad Rafique denies statement on PM-Imran meeting

Federal Minister Saad Rafique has denied making any statement regarding a decision by Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif over meeting Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) chief Imran Khan.

Rafique said he did not have an account on the microblogging website Twitter from where the statement originated.

The tweet had stated that Nawaz had decided to meet Imran "for the sake of the country".

11:15 am | Ex-military men back call for dissolution of assemblies

The Pakistan Ex-Servicemen Association, headed by Retired Vice Admiral Ahmed Tasnim, has jumped into the fray by supporting the call for dissolution of assemblies, formation of a caretaker government, introduction of electoral reforms and appointment of an independent election commission to hold fresh elections.

The association’s executive council held a meeting in Rawalpindi to discuss ‘current crises-like political situation prevailing in the country’. The participants said political leaders had failed to rise above party affiliations at the cost of country’s interests, says a press release issued by the association.

According to it, the government and parliament have failed to perform their institutional functions and fulfill their responsibilities to address serious issues being raised through public protests.

The ex-servicemen, who call themselves ‘former military strategists’ expressed concern at the failure of the government to implement orders of the additional session judge of Lahore to register the FIR of the Model Town killings, and termed it an instance of contempt of court and breach of fundamental rights of people enshrined in the constitution.

11:00 am | PAT supporter dies under mysterious circumstances

A PAT supporter detained in the recent police crackdown in Punjab died on Wednesday under mysterious circumstances in the central jail of Gujranwala city.

The 35-year-old Shoaib was a resident of the Noor Bawa area of Gujranwala and had left home on the eve of August 13 to attend the march following which he was detained.

Jail authorities handed Shoaib’s body to his family after conducting a postmortem. The report of the post mortem has not come yet.

Police sources claim Shoaib died due to a heart attack. However, his brother Hayat said Shoaib was subjected to torture during detention that led to his passing.



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