ISLAMABAD - Capping a week of anti-government protests outside parliament, lawmakers of popular Pakistani opposition leader Imran Khan's party resigned en masse from the National Assembly Friday, mounting more pressure on the government of Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif.
The resignations came as the protesters continued their siege of parliament demanding Sharif's ouster. Khan's Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) leaders Shah Mehmood Qureshi and Arif Alvi submitted the resignations of all 34 party lawmakers, including that of chief Khan, to the National Assembly Speaker's office.
The resignations would not affect the stability of the government which enjoys a majority with the ruling Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) having 190 members in a House of 342. The PTI is the third largest party in the National Assembly.
On Thursday, the parliament had presented a united front against Khan with opposition parties backing a resolution rejecting his calls for Sharif's resignation as unconstitutional.
Khan and popular cleric-turned politician Tahir-ul-Qadri have led thousands of their supporters in protest over alleged vote rigging in the 2013 elections and called on Sharif to step down.
The protesters gathered in the heart of Islamabad, in the so-called Red Zone housing government buildings. Khan's Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf party with 34 seats in the 342-member National Assembly was the third largest bloc in the lower house of parliament.
After one round of talks on Thursday both the protesting groups have suspended dialogue with the government.
"We resigned from the National Assembly as we believe that the elections were not transparent," Arif Alvi, a lawmaker from Khan's party, told reporters.
Sadiqul Farooq, a spokesman for the ruling party, said there was no threat to the government, which retains the support of a 190-member majority.
After submitting their resignations, the PTI summoned a session of the party's core committee to deliberate on future strategy regarding continuing the anti-government protests and resignations of its lawmakers from the Provincial Assemblies.
At the meeting, PTI discussed the issue of resignation of its members in the Provincial Assemblies. It had earlier this week decided to resign from all Assemblies except Khyber Pakhtunkhwa where it leads the government.
Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) Chairman Imran Khan has said that he is willing to talk with the government but how could he and his party expect justice is done from a government that has come to power after rigging the election.
In an interview to the British media, Imran Khan called for the formation of a caretaker government, composed of non-political people that can implement electoral reforms and call fresh elections. He said that the Supreme Court could order the formation of a caretaker government when asked whether the army was going to implement these changes, reported TheDaily Times.
"We do not accept an investigative commission which has members of the government in its ranks," Imran said. He said that Nawaz Sharif did not want to resign as the prime minister because he was worried about his businesses in Pakistan and was afraid of getting exposed.
To a question, the PTI chairman said that his supporters would continue the agitation. And if the supporters started to disperse, he would take a decision then, The Daily Times said.