Nawaz Sharif
Nawaz SharifReuters

Embattled Pakistan Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif found support in the Parliament, even from the Opposition, a day after anti-government protests deepened the polictial crisis and forced the Army's physical intervention.

The joint session of the Parliament began a little before noon on Tuesday, with Interior Minister Chaudhry Nisar attacking Imran Khan, head of the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) for calling the anti-government protests.

"What changed in a few months? You [Imran Khan] had been supporting this government, you had been making promises. In three months you took a 370 degree turn," DAWN quoted Nisar. 

"All the Parliament is on one side and this group is on the other side. Who is the country with? The country is with us," he added.

Protests are acts of terrorism, mutiny

Nisar termed the protests that have brought the capital to a standstill for about 20 days a "mutiny against Pakistan".

"This Parliament should remove the misconception that this is a democratic process. This is not a protest, not a dharna or a political gathering. This is mutiny against Pakistan," he said.

Nisar also apologized on the behalf of the government for the crackdown on media during the protests.

Protests have turned increasingly violent over the last three days, with three people reportedly killed in clashes with the police. Protesters also laid seige on the state broadcaster PTV's office on Monday and the Army had to step in to secure the building.

"What's outside is not a demonstration, it's terrorism," Mahmood Khan Achakzai, leader of a Pashtun nationalist party, said in the Parliament. "If state institutions are attacked, it is clearly terrorism."

Opposition Extends Support

Leader of Opposition in the Senate Aitzaz Ahsan told the National Assembly of Pakistan that opposition parties were standing with the government. "We are with this government, nothing will happen to your government. We are holding your hand, the oppositon is holding your hand, there is no example of an oppositon like this. This is the victory of democracy that we will get through this," he said.

He, however, backed Imran Khan's claims of alleged rigging during the elections held last year.

"The allegations of Imran Khan related to corruption [of government] have weight," Ahsan said.

"I have seen just one constituency, but there has been mass rigging. In one bag, there was no counter foils or no electoral lists and there are hundreds of such bags but the results are there where PML-N has won and PTI and PPP have lost. There has indeed been rigging."

 'I will not resign', says Sharif

Sharif had a meeting with Army Chief General Raheel Sharif on Monday, but deflated rumours about his resignation, stating unequivocally that he was not going to resign or not going to take leaves as has been speculated.

The protests are being led by Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) chief Imran Khan and Pakistan Awami Tehreek (PAT) leader Tahir-ul-Qadri, both of whom have demanded that the PM step down. Khan has alleged that the elections held last year that brought Nawaz to power were rigged.