Pakistan Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif accused two protesting parties of “inciting people to opt for mutiny” but made it clear that a few thousand people would never succeed in their “sinister designs” to derail the system.
Several thousand supporters of Imran Khan’s Pakistan Tehrik-e-Insaf (PTI) and religious leader Tahirul Qadri’s Pakistan Awami Tehrik (PAT) have camped in Islamabad for five weeks to press their demand for the resignation of the prime minister.
The prime minister told a joint session of parliament that the protesters have damaged the image of Pakistan before the world and also caused huge economic losses in the country, Xinhua reported.
The joint session of parliament adopted a resolution, condemning the anti-government protests and vowed to protect parliament and democracy.
Parliament was called to exclusively discuss the protests that have disrupted normal life in the country.
The prime minister once again rejected calls for his resignation and said he would never surrender to any pressure and blackmailing of a few thousand people. He told the lawmakers that people have rejected those elements, who are spreading anarchy in the country.
Sharif said the protests have badly affected economic activities and devalued the currency, exports have fallen and foreign heads have postponed visits. He said the country has suffered losses of around Pakistani Rs.600 billion ($over $5.8 billion) due to the protests.
He rejected the allegations of fraud in last year’s parliamentary elections and said that the elections were the most transparent in the country’s history.
“No evidence regarding rigging in the polls has so far been presented by the leaders of sit-ins,” said the prime minister, adding that he has already requested the country’s top court to investigate the alleged rigging in the elections.
He said that most of the international observers described the general elections of May 11, 2013, as free, fair and transparent.
He thanked other opposition parties and parliament for foiling the designs of those elements who want to create disturbance in the country.
He termed parliament’s current role as a historical one, adding that protesters stormed parliament, the state TV building, the Supreme Court and other key state buildings. He said the government can easily disperse the protesters but avoided use of force in view of the presence of women and children at the protests.
Sharif accused Imran Khan and Qadri of using “women and children” as human shields in attacks on state buildings.