No justification for protests: Nawaz Sharif tells agitating leaders

Pakistan PM Nawaz Sharif said there was no justification for the protests as he has accepted all constitutional demands of protesters.

PTI| Last Updated: Aug 24, 2014, 22:59 PM IST

Islamabad: Pakistan Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif on Sunday said there was no justification for the protests as he has accepted all constitutional demands of protesters after opposition leader Imran Khan asked him to quit for 30 days to allow a probe into alleged rigging in the 2013 polls.

"Instead of wasting their energies in protests, the demonstrators should play their role for the progress and development of the country," Sharif said in his first public comments after Khan sought his resignation.

There is no justification for continuing the protest after the government acceded to all the constitutional demands of the participants of the sit-ins, he said during a meeting with Punjab Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif and Member of National Assembly Hamza Shahbaz.
In his latest demand after the government outrightly rejected the proposal to end the crippling political deadlock, Khan asked Sharif to quit for 30 days to allow an independent probe into alleged rigging in last year`s polls, hours

"We accept nothing less than Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif`s resignation," Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) chief Khan told his supporters as they continued the siege of the parliament.

With government rejecting the protesters` demand that Sharif step down, the political deadlock entered the 11th day today with no breakthrough yet.

The third round of talks between government negotiators and Khan-led Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) last night failed to break the logjam.

The PTI yesterday proposed that the prime minister resign for a period of 30 days during which a judicial commission works `independently` to determine if the May, 2013 elections were transparent.

This demand though was rejected by the government, who said they had accepted almost all other demands of the PTI.
The party has announced it will recommence its sit-in this evening with screens and mini-protests in other cities also.

After the meeting, Khan`s chief negotiator Shah Mehmood Qureshi told reporters that if proved innocent Sharif can return to power.

Meanwhile, 11 disgruntled Members of National Assembly from Khan`s PTI have decided to form a forward bloc after developing serious differences with the party leadership over the issue of resignations.

PTI member Gulzar Khan accused the party leadership of
not consulting the lawmakers over the decision of resignations during the sit-in in Islamabad, Geo TV reported.

He said that they were neither consulted nor taken on board over such a big decision.

Thousands of supporters of cricketer-turned-politician Khan and firebrand cleric Tahir-ul Qadri continued to camp outside the Parliament building here as their protests entered the 11th day today.

Pakistani media said government has suspended mobile phone services in the Red Zone in and around the National Assembly citing security reasons. There are also reports of fresh efforts to block arterial roads leading to the protest site to prevent supporters of Khan and Qadri reaching there.

Striking a defiant note, Khan said it was out of question to leave the capital without forcing Sharif to quit.

"If it is proved after 30 days that everything was ok, you can return as the PM. But you are not willing to take us up on the offer. That is because you are afraid that you will be found out," Khan was quoted as saying by Express Tribune.

Using the cricketing terminology, he promised to contest till the "last ball".

Meanwhile, Punjab Chief Minister and the premier`s brother Shahbaz Sharif denied reports that the Pakistan Muslim League - Nawaz (PML-N) government was considering his resignation as a means to end the political crisis.

Punjab Law Minister Rana Mashhood categorically rejected the reports that the option of Shahbaz Sharif`s resignation was under consideration, Dawn news reported.

Yesterday, embattled Premier Sharif received a boost when former President Asif Ali Zardari met him at his residence in Lahore to discuss the crisis and pledged to "protect democracy".

Jamaat-i-Islami Chief Sirajul Haq said that the resignations submitted by the PTI lawmakers should not be accepted, otherwise the current political crisis will escalate.

Speaking to the media after a meeting with National Assembly Speaker Sardar Ayaz Sadiq, Haq said that there was still room for talks.