Pak Parliament holds emergency session to discuss political crisis

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Islamabad, Sep 2: Pakistan's Parliament is holding a joint emergency session on Tuesday to support embattled Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif and discuss the deepening political crisis that has triggered violence and brought the powerful army at the centre stage.

The joint session of the Senate and the National Assembly will adopt a resolution to support Prime Minister Sharif and urge him not to resign or go on leave as demanded by protest leaders, political sources told PTI.

Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf chairman Imran Khan wants Sharif's ouster over alleged rigging in last year's poll which his party lost, while Pakistan Awami Tehreek chief Tahir-ul Qadri wants to bring a revolution in the country. Both the leaders are agitating since August 14.

The joint sittings are convened only on important occasion or to deal with emergencies. The idea of the joint sitting was floated by Opposition parties and Sharif endorsed it.

The session could continue for several days depending on the will of the parliamentarians. The weekend saw the anti-government protests morph the high-security Red Zone from a concert ground to a bloody battlefield, with three people killed and over 550 injured.

Most of the opposition parties have supported Prime Minister Sharif in his standoff with Khan and Qadri and stood with the elected the Prime Minister at this critical juncture, showing strength of parliamentary democracy.

The unity might save the career of Sharif who was under immense pressure during the last couple of days to resign or go on leave. The pressure specially mounted yesterday when protesters occupied the state-run television and army was called to evict them.

It was time when protest leaders made announcements that their followers will get "good news" very soon.

Khan went ahead to declare that 2 to 8 hours were crucial. It also encouraged the protesters who fought relentlessly with police and pushed them back at several places.

By the night some of the rioters reached closer to PM House but they were held back at the last main gate of the lawn of the building. 

Khan and Qadri have been booked under the anti-terrorist act for attempting to attack the Parliament. The police yesterday registered a First Information Report (FIR) against them on behalf of the government.

With the political crisis taking a violent turn, the Supreme Court yesterday offered to assist in ending the ongoing political impasse.

Also, fresh controversy erupted after Army Chief Gen Raheel Sharif met Premier Sharif to discuss ways to resolve the crisis with media reports claiming that the embattled Prime Minister was advised to step down during the meeting.

After TV channels reported that Gen Sharif has advised the Prime Minister to step down, both the government and military yesterday issued separate denials, dismissing the claims as "baseless".

Duniya TV reported that Gen Sharif has asked the Premier to resign for a temporary three-month period as demanded by protesters to let an independent commission probe alleged rigging in last year's general election.

A government spokesperson immediately denied and denounced rumours broadcast on TV channels. The spokesperson termed the rumours "baseless" and "fake".

Military spokesperson Major Gen Asim Bajwa also denied the reports, tweeting, "News of #Army #Chief asking #PM to resign or going on leave is baseless." Prime Minister Sharif's daughter Maryam Nawaz Sharif also dismissed the news reports as "disinformation".

The army generals, who have ruled Pakistan for more than half of its history since independence from Britain in 1947, had earlier said that the "situation should be resolved politically without wasting any time and without recourse to violent means".

PTI

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