ISLAMABAD- Amid anti-government slogans that resonated around the Constitution Avenue, currently occupied by thousands of political activists, Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif seemed relaxed in National Assembly as the treasury and opposition benches continued to put their weight behind the premier who is demanded to step down.
Thursday’s session of the lower house was an extraordinary event that witnessed a rare unanimity of opposition and treasury benches that passed a resolution for upholding constitution and condemning the derogatory language and unconstitutional demands of two groups currently protesting on the road outside the Parliament House. The news that Premier Sharif would address the house triggered both local and foreign press to throng Press Gallery in order to listen to his speech.
Some ministers said that the motive behind inviting foreign press to watch the proceedings was aimed at telling the world that while the entire house was supporting the prime minister, only ‘two figures’ with their handful of supporters were trying to send him packing.
But the premier did not utter a word about the prevailing political stalemate although his body language and facial expression revealed that he was confident and firm in his stance to counter the political agitation amid a thumping support by major opposition parties. In fact MNA Ijazul Haq, who along with MQM’s lawmaker Haider Abbas Rizvi had approached Dr Qadri a day earlier for soothing him, made the prime minister enjoy Haq’s poetry that seemed fit on the current situation. “Pani aankh me bhar kar laya ja sakta, Ab bhi jalta shehar bachaya ja sakta ha. Ek mohabat aur wo bhi nakam mohabat, lekan es se bhi kaam chalaya ja sakta ha,” the poetic lines made the whole house laugh including the premier.
Although Interior Minister Chaudhary Nisar Ali Khan was conspicuously missing from the session, yet his absence was not felt neither needed in a house that extended unequivocal support to the premier.
“We will not let Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif tender resignation. Not only the masses but also MNAs have elected him as leader of the house,” PML-N’s stalwart Tehmina Doultana told the lower house in an apparent reply to Imran Khan’s demand for resignation. Referring to a public meeting in Balochistan, Doultana, an old PML-N activist, recalled a moment when some Balochs had chanted anti-Pakistan slogans that she said forced her to respond with chanting Long Live Pakistan.
“I asked the estranged Balochs that Pakistan was not behind the murder (martyrdom) of Akbar Bugti but a dictator,” she maintained as the house echoed with thumping of desks.
As the sit-in by PAT and PTI enters eighth day, a campaign that has literally paralyzed life in the twin cities of Rawalpindi-Islamabad wanting the prime minister to resign, Aftab Ahmed Sherpao congratulated the lower house for standing firm behind premier Sharif.
“Imran Khan’s call for civil disobedience has been rejected from Peshawar to Karachi by all and sundry. Everybody is sure that a third force is behind the motives of PTI. He is politically isolated,” Sherpao told at the floor. While the lower house was echoing with the support for prime minister, there was a hectic discussion in the chamber of Opposition Leader Khurshid Shah where parliamentary leaders of political parties were chalking ways about how to tackle the political drama on Constitution Avenue.
With Imran Khan unflinching in his demand for PM’s resignation, which according to both government and opposition, is unconstitutional and unacceptable, politicians were pondering ways for the face saving of the cricketer-turned politician. “Imran Khan’s illogical demand has put him in an awkward situation. He himself is sure that his demand is unacceptable. What we discuss is that how can he be rescued so that he does not feel embarrassed in front of his supporters,” a senior politician told The Nation.
With prime minister enjoying support of democratic forces in National Assembly, the government has resolved not to use force against the demonstrators on Constitution Avenue although army has already taken over the security of government offices along the venue. During the session when lawmakers continued to condemn the language used by Imran Khan in his speeches to his supporters, the Prime Minister was observed thumping desk and chatting with members. Maulana Fazal Rehman later told reporters that Khan was risking his KP government adding the forces that were pushing him to a point of no return will get nothing but a defeat. There were whispers in the power corridors that the only constitutional way to make premier Sharif step down was through the judicial commission probing the rigging allegations.
Opposition politicians are of the view that the court can ask prime minister to resign if the poll rigging allegations come true. But the process will take time, as Khan is adamant on seeking immediate resignation of Sharif.