Friday 21 October 2016

Sharif Appeals to Protestors to Negotiate With Government

Sajjad Hussain Islamabad

Pakistan's embattled Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif today vowed to protect state institutions as he appealed to the protesters to restart negotiations with the government to end the 18-day political impasse.

Sharif, who chaired a high-level meeting at the Prime Minister's House this afternoon, also endorsed an opposition proposal and convened a joint session of Parliament on Tuesday.

The meeting was attended by federal ministers Ishaq Dar, Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan, Ahsan Iqbal, Senator Pervaiz Rashid, Zahid Hamid, Abdul Quadir Baloch and Khawaja Saad Rafiq.

According to an official statement, the meeting condemned the attack on key buildings considered as symbols of the state by protesters led by Imran Khan and Tahir-ul-Qadri and termed it "undemocratic and unconstitutional".

The steps taken by police and security forces to defend and defeat violence were appreciated.

It said that the government adopted the path of negotiations but was betrayed and that the protesters invaded the premier's house despite prior commitment not to do so.

The participants of the meeting also agreed that the undemocratic onslaught should stop and parties should come back to the negotiation table.

"The Ministry of Interior was directed to utilise all resources to ensure protection of state institutions without loss of life," it said on last night's violence as the protesters tried to enter the premier's house.

Sharif also decided to endorse a proposal of leader of the Opposition Syed Khurshid Shah and convened a joint session of parliament on Tuesday.

The meeting condemned acts of violence against the media, which resulted in injuries and damage to their equipment.

The prime minister directed officials to start immediate investigation of these incidents and promptly ensure verified compensation mechanism.

Khan and Qadri have been agitating since August 14 outside Parliament with thousands of supporters, demanding Sharif's ouster.

Khan alleges that last year's general election which brought Sharif to power was rigged.

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