ISLAMABAD- Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif on Wednesday finally broke his silence in National Assembly with the pledge to uphold the constitution and supremacy of parliament, saying his Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz was not afraid of protests.

The PM in his brief address, in which he covered different aspects of the prevailing political situation in a mild tone, said the journey for strengthening democracy and constitution would continue for the better future of the country.

“I have taken an oath to protect the constitution and it’s my promise that I will never betray my duty,” the Premier said amid much desk- thumping mainly from treasury benches.

Lauding the lawmakers for unanimously passing a resolution to back democratic system in the country, he said there was no example of such unanimity in the history of Pakistan. “Without any discrimination of opposition and treasury benches, nine out of ten political parties voted in support of the resolution,” he noted.

Nawaz Sharif, who is facing political pressure from protestors, thanked all the political parties, lawyers, journalists, civil society and businessmen for supporting the democratic ideology.

“I am happy to hear that you are supporting democracy and supremacy of constitution as this is victory of ideology... PM and government keep changing but supremacy of constitution and democracy is important,“ he said, adding that this Parliament, which is supporting democracy, is representative of 200 million people.

Giving example of 2008 general elections, Nawaz Sharif said they could not contest 2008 elections without hurdles but they accepted the results. “Even my and Shahbaz Sharif’s nomination paper were rejected but we continued campaigning,” said prime minister, adding that they had not termed it rigged elections.

About PTI’s chief, he said he went to see Imran Khan at the hospital soon after the 2013 election victory and Imran congratulated him. “Imran assured that he would support his role as an opposition party and support the agenda of economic progress,” he added.

About his meeting with MQM delegation, PM said both PML-N and MQM were agreed on the policy of reform in the country. “In 33-member (parliamentary) committee (on electoral reforms) all should play role to make it successful,” he said. The prime minister, at the end of his speech, also remarked that there should also be debate on why and how the current political crisis developed. “On some appropriate time we will discuss it,” he added.

PM Nawaz Sharif giving floor to Railways Minister Khwaja Saad Rafique asked him to brief the parliament about negotiation process with both Pakistan Awami Tehreek (PAT) and Pakistan Tehreek Insaf (PTI). Saad Rafique raised concerns about not having direct access to both Imran Khan and Tahirul Qadri to negotiate the situation. He made it clear that government has no intentions to crackdown on protestors. “We are making all out efforts to solve it through negotiations,“ he said.

About Khan’s demand of PM’s resignation, the minister questioned how PM’s office could be given status of Office on Special Duty (OSD). “As per my information, even some saner elements in PTI are suggesting Imran Khan to withdraw his demand of PM’s resignation... But now it is only a matter of ego,” he said. “We have even clarified that if it is proved that anyone has rigged the elections then not only the PM but we all (cabinet ministers) will resign on moral ground,” he added.

About negotiation with PTI, he said despite failure of previous four rounds of negotiations, they would continue their effort to negotiate. “Uncountable telephone calls and after four round of dialogue, we will continue of efforts, and have requested PTI not to close the door on this process,” he added.

Saad Rafique further said that all other demands would also be accepted, including the demand of formation of a technocrats committee along with a commission that would look into election rigging. The minister said that protestors of both the parties should at least accept Supreme Court verdict to clear Constitution Avenue.

About negotiations with PAT, he said he had only one meeting with Dr Qadri stressing the need for direct access to him to discuss the issues involved. “We have four rounds of discussion with PAT members... If they have a reforms package, they should bring it forth so that we can give it legal platform of Parliament for execution,” he said.

About registration of police case in Model Town incident, he offered both sharia law and state law for solution to this problem. “We are agreed for both (these courses) but there should be access to PAT chief to directly deliberate this matter,” he added. About bringing out rallies in favour of their government, he said PML-N government will not hold counter rallies.

Earlier, other lawmakers including Rana Afzal, Maulana Qamar, Muhammad Afzal Dhandla and Haji Ghulam Blour criticised both Imran Khan and Tahirul Qadri.