Chorus calling for PM’s resignation grows louder

All but two parties say Nawaz must quit; oppose snap election

Our Correspondent July 15, 2017
Opposition leader Khursheed Shah. PHOTO: INP

ISLAMABAD: Barring two smaller groups, all opposition parties concurred on Friday that Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif “must abdicate now”, but at the same time they want the assemblies to complete their five-year constitutional term, ending in June next year.

Leaders of the opposition parties represented in parliament met for the first time on Friday since the six-member JIT submitted in the Supreme Court its explosive report on the offshore financial interests of the Sharif family.

Held in the chamber of opposition leader Khursheed Shah, the opposition parties agreed to the PPP’s proposal that the incumbent assemblies “should complete their full five-year term and elections should be held on time”.

Opposition won’t relent on resignation demand

They said ‘accountability’ and ‘democracy’ should move simultaneously. The opposition leaders also vowed to support the Supreme Court “in case the PML-N tries to put any pressure on the judiciary”.

Barring two smaller groups -- Aftab Sherpao’s Qaumi Watan Party and Asfandyar Wali’s Awami National Party -- the rest of the opposition parties were unanimous in their demand for the resignation of Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif ‘without delay’.

The QWP and ANP want to wait for the final outcome of court proceedings in the Panamagate case related to the prime minister and his family.

The JIT has already submitted its report before the three-member Supreme Court special bench which would re-convene on coming Monday.

Opposition rejects JIT, renews call for PM’s resignation

Since the JIT findings became public, opposition parties have toughened their stance against Sharif and his family. They believe the revelations made by the JIT refuting the ruling family’s claims, were more than an indictment and the premier has lost all the moral and political authority to continue as the chief executive of the country.

Intransigent, the premier has declined to step down. Instead his party has decided to challenge the JIT report in the court.

The opposition also considered options to intensify pressure on the government. However, it has yet to chalk out a joint strategy. One of the options discussed during Friday’s huddle was to put pressure on the prime minister through parliament.

The opposition has already requisitioned the sessions of the Senate where the combined strength of opposition parties outnumbers the treasury. The Senate would meet on July 17.

In addition, the opposition is also considering sending a requisition to the National Assembly speaker to call a session of the lower house of parliament.

All opposition groups gave Khurseed Shah the authority to decide when to send this requisition. Another option under consideration before the opposition parties is holding a joint protest in front of the PM House.

However, they remained short of discussing any street agitation at this stage. The PPP during the meeting suggested that the assemblies should be allowed to complete their term as any move to dissolve the assemblies for snap polls will not augur well for democracy.

Opposition divided on PM’s resignation

All opposition parties, including the PTI represented by Vice-Chairman Shah Mahmood Qureshi, have agreed to the PPP’s stance. This has put to rest some voices in the PTI, calling for early polls.

“The government is trying to make the JIT controversial when it has exposed all their lies with solid proof,” Qureshi told reporters during a joint presser of opposition leaders after the meeting.

He said the prime minister in his speeches in parliament had promised to step down if any wrongdoing was proved against him. “We are reminding him of his promise. The whole nation is demanding his resignation,” the PTI leader remarked.

Qureshi said he believed the Supreme Court would not take long to decide the case as per the JIT report. He claimed that the QWP and the ANP have also supported the joint stance of the opposition.

Aftab Sherpo, however, said his party wanted to wait for the court to arrive at a decision.

Qureshi said all the opposition parties were unanimous and vowed to support democratic system and the Constitution. “We unanimously support the constitutional rule and democracy, but the prime minister should resign forthwith,” he added.

JI’s Sirajul Haq said the JIT has exposed the decades-old corruption of the Sharif family. “My party will support any step taken by the Supreme Court that leads to fair accountability in the country.”

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