Pak PM Nawaz Sharif seeks Parliament support; political stalemate continues

Islamabad, Sep 5: Beleaguered Pakistan Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif on Friday sought the support of all parties in Parliament, stressing on "unity" amid protests, as the political logjam continued after several rounds of talks.

"I hope the opposition will continue on its path of supporting the government," Sharif said on the fourth day of the emergency joint session of the Parliament convened to support the Premier and discuss the over three weeks-long crisis that has led to the cancellation of Chinese President Xi Jinping's maiden visit to Pakistan.

Prime Minister Sharif's remarks came after overnight parleys between the government and the protesting groups -- the Imran Khan-led Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) and cleric Tahir-ul-Qadri's Pakistan Awami Tehreek (PAT) -- failed to break any ice on the issue of the Premier's resignation.

A key member of the PTI negotiating team dispelled an impression that the party was about to seal a deal with the government and end the political stalemate.

"The two sides have only agreed broadly to our proposal of electoral reforms and establishing a judicial commission. There is no further progress on the rest of our demands," PTI leader Arif Alvi told Dawn News.

As the deadlock continued, Sharif said "I assure you that if it was the PPP government instead of PML-N's and we were in the opposition, we would have stuck by the PPP."

"There should be no compromise over that unity...over the supremacy of Constitution, democracy and rule of law...all parties should set that example," he said.

Sharif also tried his best to woo back the opposition after a verbal spat between Interior Minister Chaudhry Nisar and opposition leader Aitzaz Ahsan.

Nisar accused Pakistan People's Party (PPP) leader Ahsan of being the spokesman for the largest land mafia group in Pakistan. In damage control-mode, Sharif apologised to Aitzaz and Leader of Opposition Khursheed Shah, saying it is important for all parties to keep their differences aside "for the sake of democracy, Constitution and to uphold the rule of law."

"It was the opposition which urged me not to resign...I do not care for power...being the prime minister of Pakistan, governing Pakistan is not easy. And even though we are talking to the opposition, if you look at the issues of those parties (PTI, PAT), you will wonder if these are the issues of Pakistan," Sharif said.

The protesters returned to the negotiating table on Wednesday after the crisis took a violent turn over the weekend with three people killed and over 550 injured. Khan wants the ruling PML-N government's ouster over alleged rigging in last year's polls which his party lost, while Qadri wants to bring a revolution in the country. Both the leaders are agitating since August 14.


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