In a two-pronged strategy, 34 lawmakers of Imran Khan’s Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) resigned to step up pressure on the Nawaz Sharif government but followed up with an offer to resume talks after the failed first round, as the prime minister invited Asif Zardari, former president and leader of the main opposition Pakistan People’s Party (PPP), for lunch today (Saturday) to discuss ways of resolving the political impasse.
Earlier on Friday, the PTI core committee held a meeting after Vice Chairman Shah Mehmood Qureshi handed over the resignations, including that of Imran Khan, to National Assembly Secretary Muhammad Riaz, mounting more pressure on the beleaguered government.
Later in the night, a government team led by Punjab Governor Chaudhry Muhammad Sarwar and comprising Information Minister Pervez Rashid, Planning and Development Minister Ahsan Iqbal and SAFRON Minister Lt Gen (r) Abdul Qadir Baloch met the PTI’s nominated dialogue committee at a local hotel to resume the talks process.
Talking to reporters after the meeting, PTI Vice Chairman Qureshi said they had again presented their demands to the government side which would consider them and get back to the party today (Saturday).
After one round of talks on Wednesday both Khan’s PTI and cleric Tahirul Qadri-led Pakistan Awami Tehreek (PAT) had suspended dialogue with the government.
Till now, Khan has been insisting that talks can take place only after Sharif, who has been in power for over 15 months, resigns.
Khan said Friday that he would hold an immediate re-election in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KP) and secure double the amount of votes if the government succeeds in gathering as many as one-tenth the number of PTI supporters in Peshawar and get them to chant ‘Go Imran Go’.
Addressing the participants of the PTI sit-in in Islamabad, Khan said he would rather die than accept the current system.
“They tell us we (PTI protesters) are making unconstitutional demands. I ask you Nawaz Sharif, what law prevents common people from protesting peacefully?” he asked.
“Under what law have you blocked the roads by placing containers?” Khan asked the rulers.
Meanwhile, Pakistan Awami Tehreek (PAT) chief Dr Tahirul Qadri said that the government’s seriousness to resolve the crisis would be determined after one or two sessions of dialogue.
The anti-government protests in Pakistan are in their second week with thousands of supporters of PTI chief Khan and firebrand cleric Qadri camping outside the Parliament House.
On the other hand, Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif has invited former president and Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) leader Asif Ali Zardari for a luncheon meeting in Islamabad today (Saturday) to discuss issues related to the political impasse.
All stories on Azadi March and Inquilab March since their inception on August 14 can be found here and here, respectively.
Below are the highlights of Saturday’s happenings , Day 10 of the protest rallies in Islamabad:
Treason case petition against Khan:
A petition was filed in Supreme Court seeking registration of treason case against PTI chief Imran Khan and disqualification of members of parliament from PTI.
Read full story here.
Zardari meets Sirajul Haq
Asif Ali Zardari headed to Mansoora to meet with JI Chief Sirajul Haq after his lunch with PM Sharif.
Zardari is accompanied by Khursheed Shah, Raza Rabbani and Aitzaz Ahsan.
Qadri repeats stance
PAT Chief Dr.Tahirul Qadri, while addressing the sit-in, reiterated that his struggle and ‘Inquilab March’ is just and constitutional.
He said that until an FIR is registered against those responsible for killing of 14 PAT workers, negotitations with the government cannot be held.
He thanked the lawyers who meet with Khan and Qadri and assured their support to the PAT and PTI protest against government.
Imran Khan addresses sit-in
PTI chief Imran Khan addressed the sit-in at 2:00 PM.
Khan vowed to continue to stage the sit-in ‘no matter how much government delayed the settlement of political deadlock’, reported a pirvate news channel.
“Do they think that they will manage to stop PTI workers from joining the sit-in by blocking routes and torturing our activists?,” asked the fiery skipper.
“They will not stop,” he asserted.
Khan said Nawaz Sharif was scared of Azadi march and that is why he is ‘touching feet’ of his former rival Asif Ali Zardari for getting advices and saving his unfair regime.
Zardari arrives in Raiwind
Former president Asif Ali Zardari arrived in Raiwind, Lahore via a helicopter to meet Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif on on lunch to discuss the current political situation, a private news channel reported.
The PM reportedly drove the car himself to receive the former president at the helipad.
Meeting between the two leaders continued for around 45-minutes.
Zardari is accompanied by Khursheed Shah, Aitzaz Ahsan, Leader of Opposition in the Senate and Mian Raza Rabbani, Parliamentary Leader PPP in Senate, former prime minister Yousaf Raza Gilani, Senior PPP leader Aitzaz Ahsan and Former interior minister Rehman Malik.
He is also scheduled to meet with PML-Q leaders Chaudhry Pervez Elahi and Chaudhry Shujaat as well as Jamat-e-Islami chief Sirajul Haq.
ATC court orders arrest of Qadri
An anti-terrorism court in Gujranwala has issued orders of arrest of Dr. Tahirul Qadri on charges of torturing policemen.
He has been summoned by the court on August 29.
72 PAT workers released in Lahore
72 workers of Pakistan Awami Tehreek (PAT) were released by an anti-terrorism court on bail, a private news channel reported.
According to details, the workers were arrested on charges of violence and clashing with police ahead of the ‘Revolution March’ called by their leader Dr.Tahirul Qadri on August 14.
The arrested men were presented in court where they were granted bail on surety bonds of Rs one lac, each.
PAT catches man ‘contaminating drinking water’
Protestors at PAT sit-in reportedly caught a man who was allegedly attempting to contaminate the drinking water provided by the government to the protestors, reported a private news channel.
On Thursday, PAT chief Dr Qadri had directed his worker not to consume the water provided by the government to , claiming that water was contaminated.
The government had denied the allegation.
Sheikh Rasheed sees political death either for Khan or for Nawaz:
Awami Muslim League (AML) chief Shiekh Rasheed Ahmed on Saturday said that either Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif or Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) Chairman Imran Khan would see end of their politics.
Talking to a private TV channel Rasheed said, “There is one grave and two men.” He also said the prime minister has been pushed to the brink because of ill-advices from people around him.
Answering a question about Nawaz’s meeting with former president Asif Ali Zardari he said, “Both have met on lunch for thirteen times but all meetings went useless.” He said he is away from Sharif and Zardari for a very long time.