Islamabad: Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) chairman Imran Khan refused to budge on his demand for Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif's resignation Tuesday as a joint session of parliament came out overwhelmingly in the latter's support.
The session even saw Sharif and PTI president Javed Hashmi embracing each other despite the Imran Khan party-leader taking the government to task and offering his resignation as member.
"Remember, freedom demands sacrifices... it cannot be achieved by sitting at home," Khan lectured his supporters outside parliament and vowed to stay there even if all the protesters leave the ongoing sit-in.
"We would remain slaves to the rulers if we surrender now," he said, reported Dawn online.
Reacting to Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam (JUI-F) leader Maulana Fazlur Rehman's criticism hurled at him and his party in parliament, he said that all "oppressors stand united while people are divided". Khan urged his supporters across the country to join him in Islamabad.
Speaking in the session, Rehman said: "Democracy is under attack by so-called political parties who want to attack system; we ensured PM we are with him." He also accused PTI and Pakistan Awami Tehreek (PAT) chief Tahir-ul Qadri of making "unreasonable demands" that "gives impression they are backed by a third party".
In a speech that certainly put to rest all speculation about what side Hashmi is on, the PTI president hit out at Nawaz Sharif. "Why didn't the PM go to the Senate for 14 months?" he asked. "Nawaz has been given chances many times...but Pakistan is not in a prosperous state," he said.
"People wanted to exclude Mujibur Rehman...said they wanted to be rid of Bengalis - how are we better off? Bangladesh is far more prosperous than Pakistan now?"
He also criticised his party chairmanfor going back on his promises. "People say why I didn't come out with the truth before but I was trying to convince PTI members. Imran promised me he won't go against the constitution."
Despite his rift with the party, Hashmi said he was still the elected party president. "I thank people of Multan, Lahore, (Rawal) Pindi, Islamabad for all the times they've elected me as representative. I am still the elected president of PTI."
He tendered his resignation from the membership of parliament to Speaker Ayaz Sadiq.
The session ended on a conciliatory note, as Nawaz Sharif shook hands with Hashmi.
Speaking about Hashmi later, Khan said he has not respected anyone more than the veteran leader but added that he was hurt by his statement alleging that Khan was backed by the army.