the republic logo

Pakistan cricket hero's party quits parliament to pressure PM to resign

bug
Share/Save/Bookmark

ISLAMABAD — The party of Pakistan's famed cricketer-turned-politician Imran Khan, who has led a week of anti-government protests in the capital, resigned from parliament on Friday in its latest bid to drive Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif from power over alleged election fraud.

The move came a day after parliament presented a united front against Khan, with opposition parties backing a resolution rejecting his calls for Sharif's resignation as unconstitutional despite the presence of thousands of protesters just outside.

Khan and popular cleric Tahir-ul-Qadri have led twin protests over the past week calling on Sharif to step down. Thousands of their supporters have gathered in the heart of Islamabad, in the so-called Red Zone housing government buildings. They accuse Sharif of rigging the May 2013 election, which brought him to power in the first democratic transition in Pakistan's history.

The election also saw Khan's Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf party win 34 seats in the 342-member National Assembly, making it the third largest bloc in the lower house of parliament.

Khan and Qadri have called for electoral reforms and the appointment of a caretaker government to hold a new vote. The ruling Pakistan Muslim League-N party has said it is willing to discuss all of their demands except for the prime minister's resignation.

PHOTO: Supporters of Pakistan's fiery cleric Tahir-ul-Qadri offer Friday prayers before parliament in Islamabad, Pakistan, Aug. 22, 2014. Thousands of Imran Khan's and Qadri's supporters are besieging parliament in the capital to pressure Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif to resign over alleged election fraud. (AP Photo/B.K. Bangash)
Supporters of Pakistan's fiery cleric Tahir-ul-Qadri offer Friday prayers before parliament in Islamabad, Pakistan, Aug. 22, 2014. Thousands of Imran Khan's and Qadri's supporters are besieging parliament in the capital to pressure Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif to resign over alleged election fraud. (AP Photo/B.K. Bangash)

In recent days Khan had issued a series of ultimatums calling on Sharif to step down, and at times it seemed his protesters might besiege parliament or enter the premier's nearby office.

But on Friday he appeared to have backed down.

"We resigned from the National Assembly as we believe that the elections were not transparent," Arif Alvi, a lawmaker from Khan's party, told reporters.

Sadiqul Farooq, a spokesman for the ruling party, said there was no threat to the government, which retains the support of a 190-member majority.

Khan's party on Thursday held initial talks with the government but later pulled out, saying authorities were planning a crackdown on the protests. The government insisted it had no plans to confront the demonstrators and wants to resolve the dispute through negotiations.

The protests have ground downtown Islamabad to a halt, and had initially raised fears of unrest. Pakistan, a nuclear-armed U.S. ally, has a long history of political turmoil and military dictatorships.

But the protests, which began as convoys from the eastern city of Lahore, have been peaceful, with families taking part in a festive atmosphere of dancing, drum beats and patriotic songs.

Think your friends should see this? Share it with them!

All comments are moderated before posting. Your email address must be verified with Disqus in order for your comment to appear.
View our commenting guidelines and FAQ's here.

Story copyright 2014 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Feedback, Corrections and Other Requests: AP welcomes feedback and comments from readers. Send an email to info@ap.org and it will be forwarded to the appropriate editor or reporter.


We also have more stories about:
(click the phrases to see a list)

Category:

Follow The Republic:

All content copyright ©2014 The Republic, a division of Home News Enterprises unless otherwise noted.
All rights reserved. Privacy policy.