Parliament rallied behind Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif as an unrelenting opposition leader Imran Khan warned the US not to interfere in Pakistan’s domestic politics. Many thousands of opposition activists continued their protest in the heart of Islamabad for the seventh straight day demanding the resignation of Sharif, saying the 2013 election he won was rigged.
Cricketer-turned-politician Imran Khan’s outburst against the US came after the US, eager to prevent an army coup, came out in support of Sharif saying Pakistan had an “elected government in place”. Addressing the thousands of cheering supporters, Imran Khan, leader of the Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI), denounced the US.
Khan accused the US of interfering in Pakistan’s internal affairs and asked it to withdraw its statement on the political crisis that has politically split the Islamic nation.
He called the Sharif government a “servant of the US” that “polishes the shoes of the Americans”.
Saying he was familiar with the American and British systems, Imran Khan said the US would never accept a rigged election, on which ground he wants Sharif to go.
“If an election took place in the US and a Congressman said a majority of the votes could not be verified, wouldn’t that constitute a full blown inquiry in America?” Dawn quoted Imran Khan as asking.
Earlier Thursday, Pakistan’s parliament unanimously passed a resolution rejecting demands by Imran Khan and Tahir ul Qadri of the Pakistan Awami Tehreek (PAT) for Sharif’s resignation and parliament’s dissolution.
Sharif has refused to quit but agreed to discuss other demands of the two parties including a call for investigation into alleged rigging in last year’s parliamentary election.
On Wednesday, a court issued notices to Imran Khan and Qadri restraining them from trespassing into prohibited zones in the country’s capital.
The protesters reached Islamabad Aug 15 and have refused to move out, triggering speculation that a restive Pakistani military might step in to end the impasse.
The Pakistan Supreme Court Thursday ordered the PTI to file a concise statement by Friday on a petition filed against the party over its ongoing protests.
A five-judge larger bench headed by Chief Justice Nasirul Mulk passed the order.
Advocate Asma Jahangir said the court supported the right to freedom of expression and always encouraged this right but an impression was being created as if the right was absolute.
According to the constitution, freedom of expression and right of assembly were subject to some reasonable restriction, she said.
PTI argued it believed in peaceful methods and was against any extra-constitutional steps.
Another judge, Justice Anwar Saeed Khan Khosa, remarked that it was ironic that while people were claiming to abide by the constitution, the Constitution Avenue in Islamabad was blocked by protesters.
He said the PTI should at least move away from the Constitution Avenue.