- PM, COAS discuss political turmoil; govt and ISPR reject rumours regarding proposals for PM’s resignation
- Speculations rife that govt wants to sack army chief, DG ISI, five corps commanders; govt rejects rumours
- Parliamentarians vow to stand by democracy, oppose demand for PM’s resignation as Sharif meets COAS
- Sharif says willing to accept all constitutional demands of PTI and PAT but won’t succumb to pressure on resignation
- Aitzaz Ahsan says if anyone tries to besiege PM House, political leadership would stay with the prime minister in the premises
While the political stalemate continued to haunt the country’s stability for another day Monday, Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif and Chief of Army Staff (COAS) General Raheel Sharif held a two-and-a-half-hour-long meeting at the Prime Minister’s House to find ways to deal with the political turmoil threatening the democratic setup in the country.
The meeting sparked speculations in the electronic media with some television channels claiming that the army chief had asked the premier to go on leave or tender resignation for at least three months so that a Supreme Court commission could probe into the election rigging allegations.
However, soon after the speculations started to make their space, the PM House as well as the Inter-Services Public Relations (ISPR), the media wing of the armed forces, strongly contradicted the rumours.
Nevertheless, an official statement issued by the PM House quoted the premier resolving not to tender resignation or go on leave under “any pressure”.
A source privy to the meeting details informed Pakistan Today that General Sharif conveyed the military’s concerns over the prevalent political turmoil to Prime Minister Sharif. The source said that the COAS also informed the premier about the consideration expressed during the corps commanders meeting and urged him to immediately resolve the stalemate politically, albeit the use of force.
JOINT SESSION OF PARLIAMENT SUMMONED:
Meanwhile, the government has summoned an extraordinary joint session of the Parliament to be held today at 10am. The joint session, which has been called by President Mamnoon Hussain on the prime minister’s advice, will discuss the prevailing political crisis and present suggestions to end the political deadlock.
The session is also expected to adopt joint resolutions to express confidence in the prime minister and for upholding supremacy of the Constitution. The government said that the session could continue for around one week and all the parliamentarians would be asked to speak over the political crisis.
The government’s decision to discuss the matter in the Parliament is being considered as “too-little-too-late” while analysts also think that the government wanted to hide its follies behind the joint sitting.
The situation further aggravated with some media channels claiming that the government had planned to table three separate resolutions in the joint session of the Parliament; seeking sacking of General Sharif, Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) Director General Zaheerul Islam and five corps commanders who the government thinks are allegedly behind this political turmoil.
However, Defence Minister Khwaja Asif was quick to refute the allegations, terming them a part of a “malicious campaign to create differences between the civilian and military leadership of the country”. He said such rumours were being raised just to further destabilise the civil-military relations. However, some PML-N leaders confirmed that a serious discussion had taken place in the top government circles on these suggestions.
PARLIAMENT STANDS BEHIND DEFIANT PM:
Soon after his meeting with the COAS, the prime minister met the leadership of the opposition and allied parties of the PML-N government and briefed them about the meeting.
Those who attended the meeting included National Assembly Opposition Leader Syed Khursheed Shah, PkMAP chief Mahmood Khan Achakzai, JUI-F chief Fazlur Rehman, MQM leaders Babar Khan Ghauri and Dr Farooq Sattar, Ijazul Haq, Aftab Ahmad Khan Sherpao, Mir Hasil Bizenjo, Haji Adeel, Haji Ghulam Ahmad Bilour, Abbas Khan Afridi and Ghazi Gulab Jamal.
After the meeting, an official statement issued by Prime Minister’s Office said that the prime minister had declared that he will “neither resign nor go on leave under any pressure”.
“The national political leadership has resolved that there cannot be any compromise on supremacy of the Constitution and continuity of the democratic system. A joint declaration to this effect came during meeting of the national political leaders with Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif,” the statement added.
During the meeting, the prime minister said in categorical terms that he would not set a new tradition of allowing a mob to take an elected prime minister hostage.
The premier, however, reiterated his firm resolve to accept all the constitutional demands of the Pakistan Tehreek e Insaf (PTI) and Pakistan Awami Tehreek (PAT). He expressed readiness of the government to hold talks with the leaders of PTI and PAT, adding that they would not “bow down” before any unconditional demand.
The meeting pointed out that future of Pakistan was linked with democracy and any deviation could be dangerous for the federation of Pakistan. The political leaders expressed their firm resolve that they stand by the prime minister in the struggle to defend democracy.
“All parliamentary parties decided to become party to the petition filed in the Supreme Court for supremacy of the parliament. The meeting strongly condemned attacks on the Parliament, PM House and PTV. These attacks are attacks on democracy and State,” the statement added.
Leader of the Opposition in the Senate Senator Aitzaz Ahsan declared that if someone tried to besiege the PM House, the political leadership would stay with the prime minister in the PM House.
The meeting also condemned the “irresponsible” role played by a section of media by trying to create misunderstanding between institutions.
ANP leader Haji Adeel told the prime minister that if he resigned, all the political leaders would no more support him and therefore, he should not even entertain the idea.