Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif entered the National Assembly session on Wednesday to the sound of members of the opposition and treasury benches thumping their desks in a show of support.
The premier received the support of MNAs from all parties, who urged him not to resign in order to meet the demands of Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf and Pakistan Awami Tehreek protesters. During the session, PAT supporters surrounded the parliament building on the orders of party leader Dr Tahirul Qadri. An estimated 200 MNAs were present in the session.
The lawmakers on Wednesday called upon the prime minister to publicly announce that he would not resign. “Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif should not resign at any cost,” said Pakhtunkhwa Milli Awami Party chief Mahmood Khan Ackakzai, who added that the assembly session should not be moved to any other location due to the sit-ins outside the Parliament House. “We will not allow anyone to move the session to another place and will hold it here even if we are murdered,” he said. “If Dr Qadri’s so-called ‘Peoples’ Parliament’ has the support of hundreds of thousands, the parliament has the support of millions in this country,” he added.
“We are standing by the prime minister and no one will dare to destabilise the democratic system,” JUI-F chief Maulana Fazlur Rahman said. All political parties will stand against all those who want to grab power by bypassing parliament, he added. The JUI-F chief questioned ‘unseen forces’ backing Qadri and threatened to disrupt any system set up if Qadri succeeded in toppling the government. “If we go for sit-ins then Qadri and Imran will forget about their small sit-ins,” he added.
“The objective of the Azadi march should not be to disgrace parliament and the Constitution, but parliament should be the priority for all democratic forces,” said Pakistan Peoples Party MNA Shazia Marri. She took the opportunity to remind the ruling party that if it hadn’t set a precedent when Punjab chief minister Shahbaz Sharif had called for then-president Asif Ali Zardari’s to resign in 2011, it is likely that the chief minister of Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa would not be calling for the prime minister’s resignation today. “Give us a concrete reason why the prime minister should resign,” added PPP MNA Ijaz Jakhrani.
Meanwhile, MQM Rasheed Godil called for the PTI to resign from the assemblies as the party had announced earlier in the week. PML-N MNAs shuttled from one corner of the assembly to another as they spoke with almost all members of the House. The speeches of some PML-N members were also cut short in order for the MNAs to confer with other parliamentary groups. “Imran Khan is not the kind of person to understand the language of reconciliation,” said PML-N MNA Obaidullah Shadi Khel, who lost the NA-71 seat to Imran Khan in the May 2013 elections and subsequently won it in the by-elections. The assembly chair called for some of Shadi Khel’s words to be expunged for the record, saying, “It does not suit you to behave like Imran Khan.”
Prime minister will address the Parliament today. Sources have revealed that Nawaz will take the House into confidence over the prevailing situation.
Published in The Express Tribune, August 21st, 2014.