Sharif meets  Army Chief

The meeting comes in the wake of protests in the heart of the capital by thousands of supporters of Imran and Qadri

Islamabad : Pakistan Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif and the powerful Army Chief agreed on the need to “expeditiously” resolve the political deadlock amid fears of instability in the coup-prone country, as the embattled government stepped up efforts to reach out to protesters, reports PTI.

The meeting between Sharif and Chief of Army Staff (COAS) Gen Raheel Sharif came in the wake of protests in the heart of the capital by thousands of supporters of Imran Khan and cleric Tahir-ul- Qadri, demanding the Prime Minister’s resignation.

“Overall security environment including the prevailing situation was discussed in the meeting. There was a consensus on the need to resolve the ongoing issue expeditiously in the best national interest,” a statement issued by the Prime Minister’s Office said.

The government did not give further details about the meeting but the army has already asked the two sides to end the crisis through negotiations. Qadri, who gave a 48-hour ultimatum to Sharif to step down, warned on Tuesday that either the government steps down in 23 hours, or blood would be spilled.

“The Sharif brothers should face capital punishment for their crimes,” Qadri said while addressing his supporters.

Political stalemate has continued for the last 13 days with Khan-led Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) and Qadri’s Pakistan Awami Tehreek (PAT) refusing to budge from their demand of the Prime Minister’s resignation over allegations of rigging in last year’s general election and killing of 14 PAT supporters in Lahore on June 17.

Meanwhile, Punjab Chief Minister and brother of the Prime Minister, Shahbaz Sharif, has left for China. “Shahbaz will ask China to play its role in saving the PML-N government,” a PML-N leader said.

Thousands of Khan and Qadri supporters are camped out outside the Parliament in the “Red Zone” since last week. The army had earlier asked all stakeholders in the crisis to hold “meaningful” talks to end the crisis. The army, which has so far been passive in the confrontation between the government and protesters, has a history of capturing power from democratically elected governments.

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