Defiant Nawaz trashes demand to resign as Pakistan PM

This handout photograph released on Wednesday, by Pakistan's Press Information Department (PID) shows Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif addressing the Parliament in Islamabad. Photo: AFP/PAKISTAN PRESS INFORMATION DEPARTMENT
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Islamabad: Pakistan's embattled prime minister said on Wednesday he would not cave in to protests demanding his resignation, striking a defiant note in his first major speech since the crisis erupted two weeks ago.

Nawaz Sharif told parliament his government would not be thrown off course by the demonstrations led by populist cleric Tahirul Qadri and opposition leader Imran Khan — who later called off talks with the government for a second time.

Thousands of Khan's and Qadri's followers have been camped outside parliament since August 15 demanding Sharif quit, claiming the election which swept him to power last year was rigged.

Supremacy of law

But Sharif told lawmakers his Pakistan Muslim League-N (PML-N) government would stay the course.

"We are not going to be diverted by these things," he said.

"The journey for the supremacy of constitution and law in Pakistan will continue with full determination and, God willing, there will not be any interruption in it."

He said the plan to revive the ailing economy through major development and infrastructure projects — a key plank of the PML-N manifesto — would continue.

Khan has alleged massive cheating in the May 2013 poll, though international observers said the vote was largely free and fair.

Shortly before the former cricket star and Qadri began their protests with "long marches" from the eastern city of Lahore, Sharif announced a judicial commission to investigate rigging claims in some seats, but Khan rejected the offer.

The government has also set up a parliamentary committee to consider electoral reform and Sharif urged Khan's Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) party to support it.

"We want to bring reforms in all areas as we have to think about the future generation and find ways to take the country towards the destination of progress," he added.

The protests in Islamabad have so far been peaceful, with security forces — deployed in huge numbers in the capital — taking a hands-off approach to the demonstrations.

Efforts to negotiate an end to the crisis have made little headway, with Khan sticking to his hardline demand that Sharif must quit.
Time for negotiations

Khan on Wednesday told supporters the time for negotiations was now over. He previously called off talks last Thursday, only to resume them a day later.

"We have decided — Nawaz Sharif, listen — there will be no negotiations until you resign. I will not accept anything but Nawaz Sharif's resignation to save democracy.

"There is no room for talks. I will not leave this place until Nawaz Sharif resigns," Khan said — adding that he had refused an offer by Sharif to make him deputy prime minister in exchange for calling off his protest.

Earlier railways minister Khawaja Saad Rafique told parliament the government was prepared to meet all of the PTI's demands to investigate rigging barring the prime minister's resignation.

"They said they have suspicions of rigging, we told them that we would constitute a judicial commission and if rigging is proved, not only the prime minister but all of us will resign," he said.

"But they are insisting that the prime minister should resign even if it's for 30 days.

"Is this the way this country of 180 million people should be governed?"


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Reader Comments

Please go. We Pakistanis dont want a person who is responsible of many killings and still dont want to leave the PM seat and attached to it like a blood sucking leech.

This is Allahs revenge that everything is going against you because you supported Lashker-e-Jhangvi (killers) and sipah-e-sahaba and even Talibans when you needed them to get you votes. You never realize that people killed by them are families of someone who if cant do anything against you but can still do prayers to Allah to get rid of you forever. Nation can also never forgot how you ate up all the money of your fake "Qarz utaro mulk sanwaro" scheme and other such projects which never delivered the promised cause. Now even the weather of the country is crying to get rid of you. Trust me general public opinion is against you and I am talking about the majority of people.

And you also ruined all the developments done by respected President Pervaiz Musharraf who is a real patriot and really cared about the country and nation but because of your prejudice and hate against him, you reversed all his developments and never thought that a lot of money of the nation will be wasted and whole country will suffer.

So if you still havent seen the signs, let me help you... Leave your seat and let the country and nation grow... PLEASE!!