The opposition on Thursday criticized Prime Minister Imran Khan’s address to the nation, terming it “aggressive” in view of the prevailing law and order situation in the country following a Supreme Court verdict acquitting Asia Bibi.

While speaking during the National Assembly's session, Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) leader Khursheed Shah criticized Prime Minister Imran Khan for “running away” from the Parliament at a time when the country is threatened by unrest, and said the premier’s body language was “aggressive” when he addressed the nation yesterday.

“Prime Minister Imran Khan should have been [here in the Parliament] today. The roads are blocked, people have been restricted to their homes, there is [violence]. He should not be running away. The PM and the interior minister should have been present here today,” Shah said.

Criticizing the premier’s speech, in which Khan warned the agitators against clashing with the state, Shah said the prime minister’s body language was “aggressive”.

“PM was aggressive in his speech, his body language suggested he was about to fight. Peace will not happen this way,” the veteran PPP leader said.

“We fear the anarchy may spread. We are not talking about [our] vote bank. We should [all] be worried at the state of affairs. I strongly condemn the speech by PM yesterday,” he added.

Meanwhile, Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) leader Saad Rafique, voicing similar thoughts, said a ruler’s attitude should not be “so aggressive” and the prime minister should have taken the House into confidence today over the matter.

“The religion card that you used against [the previous government] in the past, is now being used against you,” Rafique said while addressing the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf government.

“You used to talk of lockdowns and blocking roads. Now it’s being said that blocking the roads is not in the interests of the nation,” the PML-N leader remarked.

Rafique said the comments and threats against the national institutions were unacceptable, and he did not want to gain any political advantage at the expense of the situation.

Whereas, in response, Federal Minister for Education and Professional Training Shafqat Mahmood slammed Khursheed Shah for “playing politics” instead of standing behind Prime Minister Imran Khan in his resolve to keep the writ of the state intact.

“PM Imran Khan is the first ever leader to take [such a] strong stance in Pakistan’s history. Nobody spoke out in the past, Imran Khan addressed [220 million] people with bravery and reaffirmed the writ of the state,” the PTI leader said.

“This is not about the government, this is about the state. Instead of praising the PM’s stance [against the agitators], instead of condemning those who mocked the institutions, you chose to play politics for small gains,” Mahmood addressed Shah.

The minister stressed that it was the government’s responsibility to maintain law and order. “The state’s writ was challenged [yesterday], the law and order situation was challenged. Unfortunately, politics was played on the Supreme Court’s judgment,” he lamented.

Instead of doing politics, this is a very good opportunity to come together, to unite, Mahmood urged.

The PTI leader, referring to PPP chairman Bilawal Bhutto’s statement calling on the National Assembly and other institutions to stand with the Supreme Court, expressed his astonishment that a veteran leader like Khursheed Shah could be saying something so conflicting.