House into confidence: PM Nawaz rules out force to quell sit-ins

Says his resignation will create more chaos, recount of all votes deemed impossible.

Our Correspondent August 21, 2014


Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif pledged on Thursday to continue his quest for a political solution to the current standoff with Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf and Pakistan Awami Tehreek, ruling out any strong-arm tactics to quell their anti-government protests.

“The government is trying to find a political solution to the crisis, and has no plan to use force,” Prime Minister Nawaz said in a meeting with journalists and TV anchors.

He predicted that some people who wish to see bloodshed will be sorely disappointed because their wishes will not come true.

PM Nawaz claimed that if he had chosen to step down, as demanded by the PTI and PAT supporters, there would be more chaos in the country. “We have always been ready for dialogue but cannot fulfil unconstitutional demands,” said Nawaz, adding that the government cannot allow anarchy.

He said if someone wants to hold a sit-in, he can do so as long as he wants, but the government would neither use force against them nor will it react to their unconstitutional demands. “At present, 11 out of the 12 parties in parliament are on the same page as the government, and we respect the people’s mandate,” he said, referring to the unanimous NA resolution adopted by the lower house on Thursday.

Nawaz expressed his satisfaction over the ties between the military and civil leadership. “I will not let anyone disrupt the democratic process,” he said.

“It is not possible to recount all the votes cast in the general elections. We have not hijacked anyone else’s mandate, and accepted the mandate given to other parties,” said an assertive Nawaz.

The prime minister stated that no one can blackmail the government by bringing 10,000 to 15,000 people outside parliament.

During the meeting, Nawaz also sought advice from journalists about what can be done to resolve the crisis.

When asked if he planned to take any action against people staging the sit-ins, Nawaz rejected the idea at once. “The government has remained tolerant throughout the situation and has not resorted to violence”.

On Thursday, federal lawmakers adopted a resolution endorsing the supremacy of the constitution and rejected the PTI and PAT demand for the prime minister’s resignation and the dissolution of the assemblies.

The NA session, attended by the premier, was held with Speaker Ayaz Sadiq in the chair. The resolution, presented by Pashtoonkhwa Milli Awami Party chief Mahmood Khan Achakzai, stated that parliament rejects the unconstitutional demands made by certain political parties. It also condemned the use of inflammatory, non-parliamentary language against the prime minister, stressing that every effort will be maintained to ensure the progress of democracy in the country.

Earlier, Qaumi Watan Party chairman Aftab Ahmad Sherpao said that few thousand people are earning a bad name for the country by showing disrespect for the House. “The uniformity in the moves made by Imran Khan and Tahirul Qadri raises more than a few eyebrows and doubts arise about them being controlled by the same force,” he said.

Sherpao said “it seems their handler has backed off, after which they have agreed for dialogue”.

Muttahida Qaumi Movement’s MNA Asif Hasnain said that parliament is supreme and is sovereign enough to take decisions about the country’s future.

Ejazul Haq, Tehmina Daultana and Abdul Sattar Bachani also addressed the lower house and urged the need to resolve the crisis through political wisdom and hindsight.

Published in The Express Tribune, August 22nd, 2014.