(ISLAMABAD) – Its the tenth day of an ongoing political crisis in Pakistan, where thousands of anti-government protesters have been occupying important streets in Islamabad, the country’s capital, demanding the resignation of Prime Minister, Mr. Nawaz Sharif, who was elected in May 2013, and since then opposed for an election rigging by Mr. Imran Khan, a famous cricketer who later became a politician, and Dr. Tahir-ul-Qadri, a Canadian based Pakistani Muslim cleric.
Khan, who is the head of the opposition political party Pakistan Tehrik-e-Insaf, and Tahir-ul-Qadri who leads Pakistan Awami Tehrik, both besieged Pakistan’s parliament in a bid to overthrow the government, defying a call from the powerful military for a negotiated settlement.
The protests are seen as a serious challenge to the government of Sharif, who came to power just last year in the country’s first-ever democratic transition. Khan called for Sharif’s resignation and a fresh vote, citing irregularities in the elections, while Qadri demanded a complete overhaul of the electoral system before fresh polls.
Yesterday, on 21 August, Pakistan parliament generally passed a resolution rejecting demands of Khan and Qadri for the resignation of Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif and dissolution of assemblies.
Mr. Sharif enjoys a large majority in the Parliament already. While, Khan’s party gained only 34 out of 342 seats in the last year’s election. Today, on Friday August 22, party leaders submitted the resignations of all 34 members of the National Assembly in a sealed envelop to the Secretary National Assembly. After the resignations, Shah Mehmood Qureshi, a senior leader of Khan’s party, announced that the party is ready to sit in for negotiations with the government.
The other opposition parties are so far seen as supporting the prime minister, padding his position.
The government had deployed around 40,000 soldiers and police to maintain peace and stop any incursion to the red zone where key offices and foreign missions are located, including the U.S. Embassy. Pakistani authorities are preventing protesters from entering the parliament building. The situation is tense amid fears of terrorist attacks on any of the installations or protesters.
Earlier today, supporters of an Islamic political party, Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam (JUI), held party flags during a protest against mass anti-government, in Karachi, a heavily populated city in the south.