Middle East, Asia - Pacific

Pakistan sit-in: Gov’t, opposition fail to break ice

Opposition says it sticks to demand for premier Imran Khan’s resignation, who refuses to budge

Aamir Latif   | 05.11.2019
Pakistan sit-in: Gov’t, opposition fail to break ice

KARACHI, Pakistan

With thousands of protesters continuing their sit-in on the fourth day on Tuesday in capital Islamabad, the government and the opposition failed to break a deadlock over the latter’s demand for Prime Minister Imran Khan’s resignation, and holding of fresh elections.

The two sides held second round of talks in Islamabad in an attempt to break the deadlock but failed to reach any conclusion as the government side once again rejected the opposition’s demand for the premier’s resignation and fresh elections.

However, they agreed to continue negotiations.

“All the opposition parties stick to their demand for resignation of the prime minister. There is no change whatsoever in our stand,” Akram Durrani, head of a nine-member committee of the opposition parties, told a news conference together with Defense Minister Pervez Khattak, who led the government side.

Khattak, for his part, said that the government had agreed to “several” demands by the opposition, and that talks would continue to sort out the remaining ones. He, however, did not elaborate on the demands the government had accepted.

“They [opposition] have their own stand, and we have ours. We are trying to find out a middle ground to break the deadlock,” said Khattak, a close confidant of Khan and former chief minister of northwestern Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province.

Thousands of opposition party workers converged on the capital last week in a massive show against Khan, seeking his resignation over alleged rigging in 2018 general elections, and a crumbling economy.

The march led by religious political party Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam chief Maulana Fazlur Rehman set off from Karachi on Oct. 27 and arrived in Islamabad last Friday.

Main opposition parties -- center-right Pakistan Muslim League (Nawaz) of three-time premier Nawaz Sharif, and center-left Pakistan People’s Party -- of the slain premier Benazir Bhutto are also supporting the sit-in.

Earlier, the government allowed marchers to enter the capital, but warned of using force if they move to the Red Zone, a high security zone which houses the President and Prime Minister Houses and foreign embassies.

Khan maintains he will not bow to the pressure and drop corruption charges against top opposition politicians of the country.

His government has been criticized for a crackdown on opposition with key figures are either in jail or embroiled in corruption cases.

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