Islamabad: Even as the protests against the government in Pakistan by two political parties continued, the country’s Senate or upper house of parliament Friday unanimously passed a resolution rejecting the demands for the resignation of Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif and the dissolution of the assemblies.
The National Assembly or lower house of parliament has already adopted a resolution in support of the prime minister and the Senate resolution has given a further boost to Nawaz Sharif’s position.
Opposition leader and Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) chief Imran Khan and cleric Tahir ul Qadri of the Pakistan Awami Tehreek (PAT) are staging sit-in protests in Islamabad since Aug 14 to press for the resignation of the prime minister, claiming that the 2013 parliamentary election was “rigged”.
Sharif and even the main opposition parties in the parliament have rejected the resignation calls.
The protests outside the parliament building have disrupted normal life in the capital city as the authorities have blocked some roads over concerns about the security of important buildings, including the diplomatic missions. Embassies are just metres away from the protest site.
Senator Saeed Ghani of the main opposition Pakistan Peoples Party moved the resolution against the demands for the resignation of the Prime Minister and the dissolution of the assemblies and was supported by all other parties, Xinhua reported.
No party in the house opposed the move that is seen as important for the prime minster, who has offered talks to the leaders of the protestors.
“The house reiterates to uphold the rule of law and constitution and sovereignty of the parliament. The democratic system should continue to function and flourish in the country,” the text of the resolution said.
The two protest leaders have suspended talks with the government over claims of a “crackdown” on their activists, something denied by the government.
Members of the National Assembly belonging to Imran Khan’s Pakistan Tehrik-e-Insaf party, Friday submitted their resignations to the parliament’s secretariat as part of their protest.
Imran Khan, who has vowed not to end the protest unless the prime minster quits, said he would announce his party’s future strategy Saturday.
In view of the uncertain situation, the education department Friday announced extension of holidays until Sep 1. The institutions were scheduled to open Aug 16 but the holidays were extended for the third time.
The government has deployed nearly 35,000 security personnel, including army troops, in Islamabad to ensure peace and protect important buildings. The army has been assigned the security of the parliament and foreign missions.
The protests have been peaceful so far and Prime Minister Sharif has ruled out the use of force to dispel the protestors.
However, calls are now being made by a section of society urging Imran Khan and Qadri to end the protests.