Middle-east Arab News Opinion | Asharq Al-awsat

Pakistan PM chairs joint parliament session as crisis deepens - ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive
Select Page

Pakistani protesters receive food, distributed outside parliament in Islamabad, Pakistan, Monday, Sept. 1, 2014. (AP Photo/B.K. Bangash)

Pakistani protesters receive food, distributed outside parliament in Islamabad, Pakistan, Monday, Sept. 1, 2014. (AP Photo/B.K. Bangash)

Islamabad, Reuters—Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif chaired a joint session of parliament on Tuesday as a deepening crisis over violent protests demanding his resignation prompted fears of army intervention.

Sharif enjoys a solid majority in parliament and by convening both houses he seeks to reaffirm that he is fully in control. His office said parliament would be in session all week to discuss the crisis.

“This is not a protest, a sit-in or a political gathering. This is a rebellion. It is a rebellion against state institutions. It is a rebellion against the state of Pakistan,” Interior Minister Chaudhry Nisar told parliament.

“Clear guidance from this parliament would give strength to the police . . . They are not revolutionaries, they are intruders and terrorists,” he said of the protesters.

Sharif, wearing traditional Pakistani clothes, made no remarks in parliament, but took notes as he listened to the speeches. A spokesman said Sharif might speak at the end of the session.

Pakistan has been in turmoil since mid-August when tens of thousands of protesters led by Imran Khan, former cricket legend and Pakistani opposition leader, and outspoken cleric Tahir Ul-Qadri, flooded into the capital Islamabad refusing to leave unless Sharif resigned. The protesters accuse the government of corruption and Sharif of rigging the election last year. He denies that and has refused to step down.