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MENAFN - Arab News - 23/08/2014
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(MENAFN - Arab News) ISLAMABAD: The party of Pakistan opposition politician Imran Khan who has led a week of anti-government protests in the capital has resigned from parliament in its latest bid to drive Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif from power over alleged election fraud.

The move came a day after parliament presented a united front against Imran Khan with opposition parties backing a resolution rejecting his calls for Sharif's resignation as unconstitutional despite the presence of thousands of protesters just outside.

Imran Khan and Tahirul Qadri have led twin protests over the past week calling on Sharif to step down.

Thousands of their supporters have gathered in the heart of Islamabad in the so-called Red Zone housing government buildings.

Imran Khan and Qadri have called for electoral reforms and the appointment of a caretaker government to hold a new vote. The ruling Pakistan Muslim League-N party has said it is willing to discuss all of their demands except for the prime minister's resignation.

Related report Page 8

In recent days Khan had issued a series of ultimatums calling on Sharif to step down and at times it seemed his protesters might besiege parliament or enter the premier's nearby office.

But on Friday he appeared to have backed down.

His party said it was resuming talks with the government aimed at ending tense protests.

Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaaf (PTI) party said dialogue was restarting through contact with the governor of Punjab Pakistan's most populous province.

'We are resuming talks with the government' PTI vice-chairman Shah Mehmood Qureshi said.

Senior members of Qadri's team have said they are ready for 'meaningful dialogue' to end their protest though little concrete progress appears to have been made since initial contact began on Wednesday.

The two protest movements are not formally allied and have different goals beyond toppling the government.

Neither movement has mobilized mass support beyond their core followers and opposition parties have shunned Khan's call to unseat the government and begin a campaign of civil disobedience.

Maulana Fazalur Rehman chief of the Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam (JUI-F) party said the protests had no support from the majority of Pakistan's 180 million population.

'They have been isolated and people of Pakistan have rejected them there are maximum 5000 to 6000 people combined with them at night' he said.

Despite rumors that the military had some hand in the protests the Minister for Water and Power Abid Sher Ali a PML-N stalwart insisted there was 'no pressure on us from any state institution to resign.'

'It is the imagination of some lawless and outside elements camping out there' he said.


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