'Demand for Sharif's resignation absurd'

Says PM’s office after Imran Khan demanded Nawaz Sharif’s resignation alleging that last year’s polls were rigged

ISLAMABAD: Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf’s (PTI) chief Imran Khan demanded Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif’s resignation yesterday. The PM’s office however said the demand was absurd.

Imran Khan
Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf’s chief Imran Khan asserts that he wouldn’t budge until Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif resigns and orders re-elections. Pic/AFP

Speaking to thousands of supporters in Islamabad, Khan announced he would not end his sit-in until Sharif resigns, as last year’s polls were rigged.

He also demanded that fresh elections be held. “I am not going to leave this place until true freedom is achieved for the nation,” Khan said at a marketplace in Islamabad.

He led thousands of marchers into the Pakistani capital late on Friday to stage the sit-in and present his demands.

The government has deployed around 30,000 security personnel, including army troops to ensure peace in the capital city.
The former cricketer claimed that Sharif had a “fake mandate”.

The government and the election panel have rejected his claim.

“I am going to stay here. Nawaz has only one option, he must resign and get re-elections done,” he said.

He added that his party leaders approached the Election Tribunals and Supreme Court with complaints about the massive rigging, but no relief was accorded.

He said his long march poses no threat to the democratic system, adding that there is in fact “no democracy in our nation”.
Khan’s PTI rules the northwestern Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province and has also reasonable representation in the National Assembly.

A religious anti-government leader, Tahir-ul-Qadri, who heads the Pakistan Awami Tehrik (PAT) or Peoples Movement, has also arrived in Islamabad to start a sit-in. Qadri said he intends to bring out a “revolution” as the present system has failed to deliver justice to the people.

The government had allocated two different locations for both parties to hold demonstrations. The marches have been relatively peaceful during the 370 km journey. However, supporters of the ruling Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz clashed with the marchers in Gujranwala, near Lahore.

Several of Khan’s supporters were injured after being hit by stones. Few workers of the ruling party were arrested as well.
The government did not create any hurdles on the way of the marchers.

However, containers have been placed on roads leading to the Red Zone of Islamabad to stop the marchers from going there.

Sharif has ruled out any threat to his government and ministers said there was no question of his resignation.

The government has accused Khan and Qadri of derailing the elected government and trying to stop the prime minister from his serious efforts to address the country’s problems.

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