ISLAMABAD: As protests in Islamabad seemingly slip out of the government’s control, Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif and Chief of Army Staff General Raheel Sharif’s met at the PM House on Monday to discuss the political crisis.
According to sources, the embattled Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif informed army chief General Raheel Sharif that he will not resign in the wake of protests by Pakistan Awami Tehreek (PAT) and Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI).
Insiders said that in the meeting that lasted over two hours, the prime minister and army chief discussed the ongoing political crisis in detail – and its likely fallout.
Sources said that General Sharif presented a range of options before Nawaz, including stepping down for a month to allow for investigations over last year’s elections to conclude.
However, a senior Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz leader insisted that the prime minister will not step down, and will in fact address a joint session of Parliament on Tuesday.
Following his intense meeting with the army chief, the prime minister is currently holding negotiations with opposition leaders. There were also reports by a private television channel that the army chief had asked the premier to resign but the reports were immediately clarified by the ISPR spokesperson Asim Bajwa, who said the reports were baseless.
On Sunday, the army called on the government and protesters to resolve their differences peacefully Sunday night but ominously warned it was “committed to playing its part in ensuring security of the state”, after clashes left three dead.
The Corps Commander meeting, brought forward a day, came after violence broke out Saturday night when thousands of supporters of Imran Khan and Tahir-ul-Qadri tried to storm Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif’s house, demanding his resignation.
“While reaffirming support to democracy, the conference reviewed with serious concern, the existing political crisis and the violent turn it has taken, resulting in large scale injuries and loss of lives,” said an ISPR statement after the meeting.
“It was once again reiterated that the situation should be resolved politically without wasting any time and without recourse to violent means.”
They added: “(The) army remains committed to playing its part in ensuring security of the state and will never fall short of meeting national aspirations.”