Opposition leader Imran Khan’s political party Monday decided to withdraw its lawmakers from the National Assembly and all provincial assemblies except Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, piling pressure on beleaguered Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif to quit, even as efforts by the ruling PML-N to reach out to anti-government protesters failed.
“We are resigning from National Assembly, Punjab Assembly, Sindh Assembly, and Balochistan Assembly,” Shah Mehmood Qureshi, vice-president of Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaaf (PTI) announced, as the five-day political stand-off here between the Pakistan government and anti-Sharif protesters intensified.
He said, for the time being, his party is not resigning from the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Assembly, as there is a coalition government in the province and the allies will have to be taken into confidence before making such a big decision.
The Sharif-led government’s offer to discuss all “constitutional” demands put forth by Khan’s PTI and cleric Tahirul Qadri’s Pakistan Awami Tehreek (PAT) was rejected by the two protesting groups that have paralysed normal life in central Islamabad by staging sit-ins.
Khan, who has set a 48-hour deadline for Sharif’s resignation and declared a “civil disobedience movement” against the government, did not respond to the late Sunday night offer for talks.
The cricketer-turned-politician said there is no turning back and “nothing short of fake-mandated Prime Minister’s resignation will be acceptable.”
The PTI leader in a tweet said, “But I cannot keep these workers calm forever so in the interest of Pakistan, Nawaz Sharif shd (sic) resign immediately.”