News / Asia

    Pakistan Parliament Reaffirms Support for Embattled PM

    In Islamabad, Pakistani army soldiers stand guard during an emergency session of parliament, with thousands of protesters demanding the prime minister's resignation Sept. 2, 2014.
    In Islamabad, Pakistani army soldiers stand guard during an emergency session of parliament, with thousands of protesters demanding the prime minister's resignation Sept. 2, 2014.
    Ayaz Gul

    Pakistan’s parliament opened an emergency session Tuesday to rally political support for embattled Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif as thousands of protesters continued their agitation just outside the building.

    Three weeks of anti-government demonstrations in Islamabad have prompted fears of a military intervention in the coup-prone, nuclear-armed country. 

    FILE - Pakistani Prime Minister Muhammad Nawaz Sharif addresses the 68th United Nations General Assembly at U.N. headquarters in New York, Sept. 26, 2013.FILE - Pakistani Prime Minister Muhammad Nawaz Sharif addresses the 68th United Nations General Assembly at U.N. headquarters in New York, Sept. 26, 2013.
    x
    FILE - Pakistani Prime Minister Muhammad Nawaz Sharif addresses the 68th United Nations General Assembly at U.N. headquarters in New York, Sept. 26, 2013.
    FILE - Pakistani Prime Minister Muhammad Nawaz Sharif addresses the 68th United Nations General Assembly at U.N. headquarters in New York, Sept. 26, 2013.

    The joint meeting of the National Assembly and Senate took place a day after the prime minister vowed not to resign under pressure.

    The prime minister was seated in the house when Interior Minister Chaudhry Nisar Ali told lawmakers that protesters were allowed to stage rallies in the center of the capital to respect their democratic rights. But he said the protesters – armed with sticks, hammers and other tools – have attacked key installations.

    "This is not a demonstration, a sit-in or a political gathering," the minister said. "This is a mutiny against state institutions and the state of Pakistan."

    Protesters have demanded the prime minister’s resignation and a new election, alleging massive rigging helped the Sharif party win last year.

    Parliament sends a message

    Federal Minister Ahsan Iqbal spoke to VOA to explain the parliamentary meeting's importance in sending a message to those protesting outside.

    The parliament said "miscreants" protesting in Islamabad’s Red Zone should clear out, Iqbal said, noting the legislative body spoke "with one voice."

    "There will be no resignation of [the] prime minister because the entire parliament stands united behind the prime minister, so the democracy is going to prevail," he added.

    Lawmakers from Sharif-allied parties and opposition groups criticized protesters for resorting to "undemocratic" ways to demand change. Some suggested that elements in the military might have encouraged the anti-government campaign.

    But legislators representing the main opposition Pakistan Peoples Party were also critical of Sharif’s handling of the political crisis and issues concerning ordinary Pakistanis since he took charge 14 months ago. 

    Demonstrations underscore grievance

    PPP lawmaker Nafisa Shah spoke to VOA after the special parliamentary session.  

    “Yes, many of the things that these protesters are saying are unconstitutional, the way in which they are doing it is wrong. But some things that they are saying merit attention,” she said, pointing out that demonstrations had gone on for 19 days. “…  So, if they are there, there have to be some grievance and that grievance has to be addressed.”

    On Monday, Pakistan's military denied as "baseless" any assertions that it’s behind the twin mass protests to dislodge the Sharif government because of the trial of former army chief, Pervez Musharraf, who was charged with high treason. 

    The anti-Sharif protests are led separately by cricketer-turned-politician Imran Khan and populist cleric Tahir-ul-Qadri, who also has Canadian nationality.

    Addressing his supporters outside parliament, Imran Khan said lawmakers from his party would attend Wednesday’s parliamentary session to respond to allegations he is working against Pakistani democracy with the military’s support.

    Kahn said the lawmakers will formally quit the parliament soon after their speeches and this will be their final appearance in the house.

    • Supporters of Muslim cleric Tahir-ul-Qadri camp near the parliament building in Islamabad, Pakistan, Sept. 2, 2014.
    • Supporters of Muslim cleric Tahir-ul-Qadri camp near the parliament building in Islamabad, Sept. 2, 2014.
    • Pakistani protesters bathe at a leaking water supply line close to the parliament building, Islamabad, Sept. 2, 2014.
    • Pakistan's fiery cleric Tahir-ul-Qadri (second left) and cricketer-turned-politician Imran Khan (right), jointly raise their hands for their supporters during a protest near the prime minister's home in Islamabad, Sept. 2, 2014.
    • Supporters of fiery cleric Tahir-ul-Qadri chant slogans during a protest near the prime minister's home in Islamabad, Sept. 2, 2014.

    You May Like

    Former US Envoys Urge Obama to Delay Troop Cuts in Afghanistan

    Keeping troop levels up during conflict with both Taliban and Islamic State is necessary to support Kabul government, they say

    First Lady to Visit Africa to Promote Girls' Education

    Michele Obama will be joined by daughters and actresses Meryl Streep and Freida Pinto

    Video NYSE Analyst: Brexit Will Continue to Place Pressure on Markets

    Despite orderly pricing and execution strategy at the New York Stock Exchange, analyst explains added pressure on world financial markets is likely

    This forum has been closed.
    Comments
         
    There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    Brexit Vote Plunges Global Markets Into Uncharted Territoryi
    X
    June 24, 2016 9:38 PM
    British voters plunged global markets into unknown territory after they voted Thursday to leave the European Union. The results of the Brexit vote, the term coined to describe the referendum, caught many off guard. Analysts say the resulting volatility could last for weeks, perhaps longer. Mil Arcega reports.
    Video

    Video Brexit Vote Plunges Global Markets Into Uncharted Territory

    British voters plunged global markets into unknown territory after they voted Thursday to leave the European Union. The results of the Brexit vote, the term coined to describe the referendum, caught many off guard. Analysts say the resulting volatility could last for weeks, perhaps longer. Mil Arcega reports.
    Video

    Video Orlando Shooting Changes Debate on Gun Control

    It’s been nearly two weeks since the largest mass shooting ever in the United States. Despite public calls for tighter gun control laws, Congress is at an impasse. Democratic lawmakers resorted to a 1960s civil rights tactic to portray their frustration. VOA’s Carolyn Presutti explains how the Orlando, Florida shooting is changing the debate.
    Video

    Video Tunisian Fishing Town Searches for Jobs, Local Development Solutions

    As the European Union tries to come to grips with its migrant crisis, some newcomers are leaving voluntarily. But those returning to their home countries face an uncertain future.  Five years after Tunisia's revolution, the tiny North African country is struggling with unrest, soaring unemployment and plummeting growth. From the southern Tunisian fishing town of Zarzis, Lisa Bryant takes a look for VOA at a search for local solutions.
    Video

    Video 'American Troops' in Russia Despite Tensions

    Historic battle re-enactment is a niche hobby with a fair number of adherents in Russia where past military victories are played-up by the Kremlin as a show of national strength. But, one group of World War II re-enactors in Moscow has the rare distinction of choosing to play western ally troops. VOA's Daniel Schearf explains.
    Video

    Video Experts: Very Few Killed in US Gun Violence Are Victims of Mass Shootings

    The deadly shooting at a Florida nightclub has reignited the debate in the U.S. over gun control. Although Congress doesn't provide government health agencies funds to study gun violence, public health experts say private research has helped them learn some things about the issue. VOA's Carol Pearson reports.
    Video

    Video Trump Unleashes Broadside Against Clinton to Try to Ease GOP Doubts

    Recent public opinion polls show Republican Donald Trump slipping behind Democrat Hillary Clinton in the presidential election matchup for November. Trump trails her both in fundraising and campaign organization, but he's intensifying his attacks on the former secretary of state. VOA National Correspondent Jim Malone reports.
    Video

    Video Muslim American Mayor Calls for Tolerance

    Syrian-born Mohamed Khairullah describes himself as "an American mayor who happens to be Muslim." As the three-term mayor of Prospect Park, New Jersey, he believes his town of 6,000 is an example of how ethnicity and religious beliefs should not determine a community's leadership. Ramon Taylor has this report from Prospect Park.
    Video

    Video Internal Rifts Over Syria Policy Could Be Headache for Next US President

    With the Obama administration showing little outward enthusiasm for adopting a more robust Syria policy, there is a strong likelihood that the internal discontent expressed by State Department employees will roll over to the next administration. VOA State Department correspondent Pam Dockins reports.
    Video

    Video Senegal to Park Colorful ‘Cars Rapide’ Permanently

    Brightly painted cars rapide are a hallmark of Dakar, offering residents a cheap way to get around the capital city since 1976. But the privately owned minibuses are scheduled to be parked for good in late 2018, as Ricci Shryock reports for VOA.
    Video

    Video Florida Gets $1 Million in Emergency Government Funding for Orlando

    The U.S. government has granted $1 million in emergency funding to the state of Florida to cover the costs linked to the June 12 massacre in Orlando. U.S. Attorney General Loretta Lynch announced the grant Tuesday in Orlando, where she met with survivors of the shooting attack that killed 49 people. Zlatica Hoke reports.
    Video

    Video How to Print Impossible Shapes with Metal

    3-D printing with metals is rapidly becoming more advanced. As printers become more affordable, the industry is partnering with universities to refine processes for manufacturing previously impossible things. A new 3-D printing lab aims to bring the new technology closer to everyday use. VOA's George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video Big Somali Community in Minnesota Observes Muslim Religious Feast

    Ramadan is widely observed in the north central US state of Minnesota, which a large Muslim community calls home. VOA Somali service reporter Mohmud Masadde files this report from Minneapolis, the state's biggest city.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora