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Pakistan cleric sets 48-hour deadline for parliamentarians

Posted on Aug 25 2014 | IANS

Islamabad, Aug 25 : Cleric and Pakistan Awami Tehreek (PAT) chief Tahir ul-Qadri Monday gave a 48-hour deadline to members of the National Assembly or lower house of parliament to leave the house even as it was reported that the third round of talks between the Imran Khan-led Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) and the ruling Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) has been successful.

"I ask the members of National Assembly to leave the house before my deadline expires," Dawn online quoted Qadri as saying while addressing sit-in demonstrators.

The protests in Islamabad, that began Aug 15, entered the 11th day Monday as the PTI, PAT and the government remained deadlocked over the issue of the resignation of Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif who is accused of rigging the 2013 general elections.

Qadri said that in the history of Pakistan there is no example of this many people participating in a sit-in.

"All the credit for this struggle goes to the people," he said.

Qadri blamed the ruling PML-N for letting the situation reach this stage.

The PAT chief alleged that the procedure followed to select the election set-up and the way the elections were held and assemblies were formed, was in clear violation of Article 213, and added that no one from any political party dared to disagree with him on this point.

"We consider the government unconstitutional from the very first day," Qadri said.

Meanwhile, Jamaat-i-Islami (JI) emir Sirajul Haq said Monday that the third round of talks between the PTI and the ruling PML-N has been fruitful.

Talking to the media, the JI emir praised the PTI leadership and supporters for ensuring that their protest was violence-free.

"There were many who wished for violence to break out," said Haq. "Patience showed by PTI leadership and supporters foiled that bid."

He said that the PTI was now waiting for Sharif to step down for a period of 30 days until the court verifies the outcome of the May 2013 general elections.

However, the PML-N did not want to discuss the resignation of their premier and wanted him to stay in office while the verification took place, Haq said.

"We all want this crisis to be over soon...the one who takes a step back on its demands will come out victorious before the people," Dawn quoted him as saying.

In another important development Monday, the Supreme Court ordered the two parties leading the anti-government sit-in protests in front of the apex court to clear out of Islamabad's Constitution Avenue area within the next 24 hours.

A five-member Supreme Court (SC) bench led by Chief Justice Nasirul Mulk asked the attorney general and counsels representing the PTI and the PAT to work out modalities to clear the area by Tuesday, according to Dawn online.

The SC bench said judges would like to arrive Tuesday in the Supreme Court via the Constitution Avenue route.

The protestors have camped in front of Parliament House and the SC building since Aug 19, making the road less accessible for the Supreme Court, Prime Minister's Office and secretariat employees.

The court was hearing a petition filed by Supreme Court Bar Association (SCBA) president Kamran Murtaza and other members of the legal fraternity.

The petition contended that the protestors were breaching the rights of the common citizen as enshrined in Articles 15 and 16 ensuring freedom of movement and right of assembly.

Chief Justice Nasirul Mulk said that demonstrators had occupied Constitution Avenue and that they were checking vehicles and passers-by, while this is the job of the security personnel.

Consequently, the SC judges have to come to court through an alternate route, while the attendance of SC employees was also very low because of this, the chief justice noted.

PTI counsel Hamid Khan said the party has been holding its protest in Parade Ground where there are no government offices.

Further, PAT counsel Ali Zafar said that he would convey the cou't's concerns to party chief Qadri.

Earlier Monday, PTI chief Imran Khan said his call for Prime Minister Sharif to step down for a 30-day period was non-negotiable and the ball was now in the government's court.

"It is an ultimate compromise on my earlier demand, nobody should expect more than this and now the turn is of the government," the Nation quoted Khan as saying Sunday at a sit-in in Islamabad's D-Chowk.

"We have given them a way out as we want a middle ground," Khan said.

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