PTI, PAT protests: Political impasse continues

Updated August 22, 2014

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Supporters of Imran Khan, shown in the banner, jostle to get food while in a rally in Islamabad, Aug 22, 2014. — AP
Supporters of Imran Khan, shown in the banner, jostle to get food while in a rally in Islamabad, Aug 22, 2014. — AP
A supporter of PTI in Islamabad. — Photo by Reuters
A supporter of PTI in Islamabad. — Photo by Reuters

With Imran Khan preparing to celebrate a self-styled independence after Friday prayers and Tahirul Qadri continuing to rile his supporters against the government, what the Parliament has made clear is that it continues to support Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif.

The elected representatives, minus those from Pakistani Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) have rejected the demand for the resignation of Nawaz and the dissolution of the National Assembly.

The events come as the prime minister finally spoke on the issue — rejecting calls for resignation and refusing to be “blackmailed” by someone bringing 10,000-15,000 people outside the Parliament House.

The government has promised not to use force against protesters but with the sit-in ongoing and both Imran and Qadri on a continual harangue, it’s not entirely clear how the day will unfurl.

Follow our updates on the day's political happenings below.


Sarwar, Altaf discuss political situation


Punjab Governor Chaudhry Mohammad Sarwar and Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM) chief Altaf Hussain spoke on the telephone.

The two reportedly discussed the ongoing political crisis in the country.

Sarwar led a five-member government team which included cabinet members Ahsan Iqbal, Abdul Qadir Baloch, Pervaiz Rashid and Zahid Hamid to talk to PTI leaders late on Wednesday.


Lunch at Sharif's: Zardari to head to Raiwind tomorrow


Nawaz Sharif has initiated contact with former president and Pakistan Peoples Party leader Asif Ali Zardari.

The premier called Zardari and invited the PPP co-chairman for a lunch on Saturday which the former president accepted.

Senior leaders of the PML-N and the PPP will accompany their party heads at the lunch where they are expected to discuss the prevailing political crisis in the country.

The meeting will take place in Raiwind for which Zardari will depart from Karachi tomorrow.


PTI lawmakers tender NA resignations


PTI lawmakers submitted their resignations from the National Assembly.

PTI leaders Shah Mehmood Qureshi, Arif Alvi and Shireen Mazari submitted the resignations of all 34 MNAs to the NA speaker’s office, including that of Chairman Imran Khan.


Zardari, Fazl discuss political situation


Former president Asif Ali Zardari and Jamiat Ulema-i-Islam Fazl (JUI-F) leader Maulana Fazlur Rehman spoke via telephone on Friday.

The two discussed the political situation of the country and agreed that problems must be resolved as per the Constitution and law.

The Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) is also expected to establish contact with political leaders from other parties.


PTI, PAT demands unconstitutional: Fazl


Jamiat Ulema-i-Islam - Fazl (JUI-F) chief Maulana Fazlur Rehman on Friday termed the demands of PTI and PAT unconstitutional.

Speaking to media representatives outside the Parliament House, he said: “All political parties in parliament are unanimous that Prime Minister Muhammad Nawaz Sharif should not resign from premiership.”

Rehman said all those who have struggled for the continuation of democracy in Pakistan are united to safeguard it from violators.

He stressed that democracy will not be derailed and political parties will continue their fight to safeguard the Constitution and the law.

He said the National Assembly had rejected the PTI and PAT’s unconstitutional demands of the premier’s resignation and the dissolution of assemblies.

JUI chief urged the two parties to show political maturity and work for the strengthening of democracy in the country.

He claimed that PTI and PAT had isolated themselves and people in various parts of the country had started to protest against them.



PTI again decides to submit resignations in NA


The PTI on Friday took the final decision of submitting the resignations of the party's Members of National Assembly.

Earlier on Monday, the PTI had said that they had decided to resign from the National Assembly and all provincial assemblies except Khyber Pakhtunkhwa.

PTI leader Shah Mehmood Qureshi had announced that all PTI MNAs had submitted their resignations.


Pervaiz Rasheed challenges Lahore court ruling against Nawaz, Shahbaz


Information Minister Pervaiz Rasheed has challenged the ruling of a Lahore court which ordered the registration of a murder case against Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, Punjab Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif, several other PML-N leaders and some police officials over the June 17 Model Town incident.

Rasheed challenged the ruling in the Lahore High Court in a personal capacity which the court has admitted for hearing.

The petition will be heard today by Justice Mehmood Maqbool Bajwa of the LHC.

The petition contends that the ruling of the sessions judge that ordered the registration of cases was not based on the reality of situation, adding that the order be suspended.

Eleven supporters of PAT were killed and scores were wounded in the June 17 Model Town incident.


Govt strategy to resolve political crisis unclear: Rehman Malik


Pakistan Peoples Party leader Rehman Malik on Thursday said the onus lies on the government to manage and resolve the political impasse.

Speaking to media representatives in Karachi on Friday, the PPP leader said the army has given a clear signal to Nawaz Sharif, Imran Khan and Tahirul Qadri and that it was now up to them to manage the situation.

The three leaders should pay heed to the statement issued by the Inter-Services Public Relations (ISPR), Malik said, adding that the parties should not ignore the message or there was a fear of a referee stepping in.

Malik said if we fail to resolve the current political impasse, the situation can get worse.

He said both parties should focus on a resolution through talks, adding that it was up to the sagacity of the prime minister that the issue is resolved in an amicable manner.


'Unconstitutional demands' driving Imran to political suicide: Shahbaz


Punjab Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif said on Friday that Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) chairman Imran Khan's 'unconstitutional demands' were driving him towards political suicide, adding that he (Khan) was shredding the Constitution on Constitution Avenue.

Taking a leaf out of Imran Khan's book, the chief minister used cricketing terms to have a dig at the PTI chairman and said that "Khan was wishing to grab a wicket on a no-ball but that would never happen".

He added that "Imran had not only proved himself a bad politician but a bad sportsman as well".

Shahbaz Sharif also said that the government was making sincere efforts to resolve the political crisis and added that all issues should be resolved through dialogue and talks.

Addressing parliamentarians in the provincial capital, he said the government had exhibited patience and would continue to do so in the future adding that the nation was aware of who had rejected the option of dialogue.


Senate resolution affirms supremacy of Constitution

The Senate on Friday adopted a resolution affirming the supremacy of the Constitution and the Parliament.

The resolution was tabled by Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) Senator Saeed Ghani.


Petition calls for ban on PAT, PTI


Advocate M.H. Mujahid has filed a petition in the Supreme Court's Lahore registry seeking a ban on PTI and PAT.

In his plea, the petitioner contended that the protests being staged by the PAT and PTI were adversely affecting the movement of Islamabad's residents and sought a ban on both the political parties under Article 17 of the Constitution.

Article 17 of the Constitution relates to freedom of association and states that "every citizen shall have the right to form associations or unions, subject to any reasonable restrictions imposed by law in the interest of sovereignty or integrity of Pakistan, public order or morality".


Imran says he wants to talk but govt cannot ensure justice


Imran Khan says he was willing to talk the government but added that how could he and Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) expect a government that has come to power after rigging the elections to ensure that justice is done.

In an interview to the BBC, Imran called for the formation of a caretaker government — composed of non-political people — which can implement electoral reforms and call fresh elections.

The PTI chairman said the Supreme Court could order the formation of the caretaker government in response to a question as to whether the army was going to implement these changes.

We do not accept an investigative commission which has members of the government in its ranks, Imran said.

He said Nawaz Sharif did not want to resign because he was worried about his businesses in the country and was afraid of getting exposed.

Responding to a question, Khan said his supporters would continue to be here and if they began to disperse then he would leave it to that time.


Islamabad protests: PTI, PAT submit response in SC


The PTI and PAT submitted their responses in the Supreme Court over a set of identical petitions filed by bar associations across the country against their sit-ins on Islamabad's Constitution Avenue.

A five-judge larger bench, headed by Chief Justice Nasirul Mulk, heard the case today.

The PTI’s response stated that it was the constitutional right of the party to hold protests, adding that the measures the party had adopted were within the parameters of the Constitution.

Advocate Ali Zafar, who was representing the PAT, verbally assured the court that the party favoured the rule of law.

“It is a peaceful demonstration, we are not blocking roads neither are we stopping anybody from entering the buildings and don’t intend to cause any damage to the buildings. It is the government that is blocking access by placing containers.”

Justice Jawwad S. Khawaja, who was present on the bench, observed that the country was presently in the midst of a political impasse.

“We need to realise and understand the consequences of this impasse.”

Adjourning the hearing to August 25, the court directed PAT’s counsel to submit a concise statement by tomorrow.


Section 144 imposed in Multan


Section 144 was imposed in Multan on Friday in the midst of an ongoing political impasse in the country.

The section, which has been imposed in the city for two days, appears to be aimed at restricting political gatherings.

The enforcement comes days after club-wielding Pakistan Muslim League - Nawaz workers led by the party’s district chief stormed the Multan residence of Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) vice chairman Shah Mehmood Qureshi.

The workers had reportedly gathered on a call of the ruling party’s district president Bilal Butt for a sit-in at Chowk Daulat Gate to protest against alleged anti-democracy stance of Qureshi.

On Thursday, Multan police had lodged a case against over 60 PML-N activists in this regard.


US denies meddling in Pakistan's politics


The State Department in a daily briefing in Washington on Friday commented said the US was not engaged in any discussions that could be regarded as interference in Pakistan's internal politics.

State Department’s deputy spokesperson Marie Harf said: "We are in no way involved in the process or the discussion between the parties. Any suggestion to the contrary is completely false."

"We do think that there needs to be peaceful dialogue and no attempts to change Pakistan’s government through extra-constitutional attempts," Harf added.

Responding to a question as to whether there were any contacts between Islamabad and Washington on the current situation, Harf said US Ambassador to Pakistan Olson "meets quite frequently with a range of officials, and I believe that’s where the contact has occurred".


MQM chief appeals stakeholders to end political turmoil


Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM) chief Altaf Hussain has urged the government not to adopt strict measures to mitigate the political crisis in the country.

In a statement on late Thursday night, he advised all political stakeholders to consider reconciliation to end the ongoing political turmoil.

“The government should not be ashamed, even if it takes back a couple of steps for the survival of democracy,” he said.

MQM chief further said the demands listed by the protesters should be brought to discussion.


Police chief’s removal adds to political confusion


Though police chiefs are usually not changed during any political and security turmoil, the removal of the inspector general of the Islamabad police, Aftab Cheema, on Thursday raised eyebrows in the federal city.

Rumours also spread in the capital in favour of and against Mr Cheema.Pakistan Awami Tehreek (PAT) chief Tahirul Qadri alleged that Mr Cheema had refused to take action against the participants of the sit-ins when they entered the Red Zone on August 19.


NA rejects demand for Sharif’s resignation


The National Assembly, minus the protesting PTI and some allies, on Thursday unanimously rejected the demand for the resignation of Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif and its dissolution, but the prime minister himself would not give out his mind as crowds besieging parliament pressed on for his ouster.

The rejection, in a joint resolution signed by various parties, came as the house still had no inkling of any progress, or failure, of talks between government-mandated mediators and negotiators of the PTI and non-parliamentary PAT over their demands for Sharif’s removal for alleged rigging of last year’s general elections and for fresh polls under reformed electoral laws.