- Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif refuses to resign in ‘national interest’
- Claims clear majority of political parties support govt while no one supports ‘extra-constitutional agenda’ of PTI and PAT
- Says complete audit of elections not possible as it is not permissible under law and constitution
- Rules out possibility of use of force against protesters, says govt will resolve crisis through dialogue
Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif stood undeterred Thursday as he rejected the demands of the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) and Pakistan Awami Tehreek (PAT)’s for his resignation, saying that it would lead the country towards another crisis.
Talking to a select group of senior journalists at Prime Minister’s House, the prime minister claimed that no one in the country supported the “extra-constitutional agenda” of the two protesting parties. Punjab Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif and six federal ministers were also present on the occasion.
“Today all political forces are on the same page and the government will fully respect the mandate of the people,” Prime Minister Sharif said, claiming that 11 of 12 political parties in the parliament were supporting the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) government.
Sharif said given the regional situation, his resignation would cause great problems for democracy in the country, which Pakistan could not afford. He also said that dialogue was the only way the crisis could be resolved.
The prime minister also ruled out complete audit of the 2013 election, saying it was not possible under the law as well as the constitution. He said he had also fulfilled his commitment of not doing politics of 90s, as neither anyone was implicated falsely nor any party’s mandate was stolen.
He said that despite the reservations of one of its allies, the PML-N allowed PTI to form the government in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa respecting its mandate and democratic traditions. He said the government did not intervene in provincial matters, adding that the PMLN allowed the election of a chief minister from a nationalist party in Balochistan despite having the required numbers to form its own government in the larger interest of the country and province.
Contrary to PTI and PAT’s allegations, the premier ruled out the possibility of use of force against the protesters and reiterated that the government wanted to resolve the current political crisis through dialogue.
“We are showing great restraint because women and children are among the protesters,” said Sharif, reiterating that he had become prime minister through a democratic process.
He said people had pinned some hopes with Imran Khan and TahirulQadri but media had exposed their real faces to the people.
Talking to reporters after the meeting, the premier’s younger brother Shahbaz Sharif said that Nawaz Sharif’s resignation “is out of the question and so is holding mid-term elections”.
Meanwhile, talking to reporters Information Minister Pervaiz Rashid said that no political party supported the demand for the prime minister’s resignation through long marches and pressure tactics.
The information minister said that positive results were expected of the dialogue process, adding that the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) had a clear stand that it would not accept the “unconstitutional demand” for prime minister’s resignation.
To a question, the senator said that the armed forces were playing their role within the ambit of the constitution.
GOVT WILL ‘AVOID’ USE OF FORCE:
Moreover, Defence Minister Khawaja Asif separately told reporters that the government would “avoid” the use of force against protesters, adding that the government had no intention of arresting PTI chief Imran Khan either.
“Not just the people watching the protests but the protesters themselves are getting tired of this situation,” he said, agreeing that the situation should be resolved as soon as possible, since protests were negatively impacting the country’s economy. He expressed hope that the negotiations will be successful.