Sharif: Protests will not divert our journey

Imran Khan speaks to supporters during an anti-government protest in Islamabad.

Imran Khan speaks to supporters during an anti-government protest in Islamabad.

ISLAMABAD: Pakistan’s Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif said he would not cave in to protests demanding his resignation, striking a defiant note in his first major speech since the crisis erupted two weeks ago.

Sharif told Parliament his government would not be thrown off course by the demonstrations led by Tahirul Qadri and Imran Khan — who later called off talks with the government for a second time.

Sharif told lawmakers his Pakistan Muslim League-N (PML-N) government would stay the course. “We are not going to be diverted by these things,” he said.

“The journey for the supremacy of constitution and law in Pakistan will continue with full determination and, God willing, there will not be any interruption in it.”

An extensive new survey of public sentiment, released on Wednesday, reveals that the ongoing demonstrations are hardly reflective of the views of most Pakistanis.

The annual Pew Research Center survey found that 64 percent of Pakistanis have a favorable view of Sharif.

Sharif also said the plan to revive the economy through major development and infrastructure projects — a key plank of the PML-N manifesto — would continue.

Imran Khan Wednesday told supporters the time for negotiations was now over.

He previously called off talks last Thursday, only to resume them a day later.

“We have decided — Nawaz Sharif, listen — there will be no negotiations until you resign. There is no room for talks. I will not leave this place until Nawaz Sharif resigns,” Khan said — adding that he had refused an offer by Sharif to make him deputy prime minister in exchange for calling off his protest.

Earlier Railways Minister Khawaja Saad Rafique said the government was prepared to meet all of the demands of Imran Khan to investigate rigging barring the prime minister’s resignation.

 
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