Pakistan talks fail as Khan insists PM quits
Negotiations between Nawaz Sharif's government and opposition party stall as Imran Khan sticks to demand that Sharif stands down over electoral fraud claims


Negotiations between Pakistan’s government and Imran Khan have collapsed with both sides refusing to budge over the question of Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif’s resignation.

The failure of Saturday’s talks in Islamabad, in which Khan’s Pakistan Tehrik-e-Insaf party insisted Sharif quit over claims of electoral fraud, resulted in the former cricketer threatening protests across the country.

Khan’s supporters have been staging a sit-in protest outside Pakistan’s parliament building for more than a week.

Issuing a 24-hour deadline, Khan told the crowd of supporters: "There will be no compromise on Nawaz Sharif’s resignation.

"If he does not do that by Sunday 8 p.m. [16.00 GMT] there will be sit-ins all over Pakistan.

"I can stay here for a year. I will not leave without Nawaz Sharif’s resignation.”

Ahsan Iqbal, minister for planning and development, told reporters the two sides had agreed on five of the opposition’s six demands, including election reform and an investigation into the vote-rigging allegations from last year’s general election.

Khan’s party, known as the PTI, had earlier demanded the dissolution of parliament and fresh elections. They rescinded these demands but insisted that Sharif, who is serving his third term as premier, should stand down while the investigation is conducted.

"This is a legitimate demand because in the presence of prime minister, the investigation can never be impartial,” Shah Mehmood Qureshi, head of the PTI’s negotiation team, said after the talks.

He added: "We have shown flexibility to break the deadlock. The ball is now in government’s court. If the government does not accept this demand we will consider the talks dead.”

Khan’s supporters set off a ‘long march’ to Islamabad from Lahore on August 14, hoping to force Sharif to step down. They were joined by the supporters of cleric Tahir ul-Qadri, who is seeking Sharif's resignation and an end to electoral politics.

However, the numbers of protesters is diminishing every day due to the hot weather and lack of food, water and sanitation.

Many commentators say Khan is disappointed at the army’s reported refusal to play any role in the crisis.

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Last Modified: 2014-08-24 07:45:28
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