Pakistan’s political crisis showed no signs on easing on Tuesday as members of the PML-N submitted their resignations but the Prime Minister refused to accept them.
Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani took the plea that the matter would be decided by Pakistan Peoples’ Party (PPP) co-chairman Asif Ali Zardari on his return to Pakistan. Zardari is currently in the UK.
At the same time, Gilani held meetings with MPs from forward blocks of different political parties in what is being seen as a possible move to garner support for the government if the PML-N decides to sit on the Opposition benches.
At a news conference on Monday, PML-N leader Nawaz Sharif had said that despite the breakdown of talks on the reinstatement of judges, his party would sit on the treasury benches "for the time being".
Tuesday was a busy day for Sharif, who submitted his nomination papers for contesting by-elections in Lahore. His brother Shahbaz also submitted his nomination papers for contesting on a provincial assembly seat. Shahbaz is tipped to be the next chief minister of Punjab if the coalition alliance with the PPP does not break.
Gilani told the media that the coalition alliance with the PML-N "was in place", as far as he was concerned and that the matter would be settled further after PPP leader Zardari came back to Pakistan. "Till then these people (PML-N ministers) will remain in the cabinet."
However, Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan, a PML-N leader, reiterated the stance of his party that the ministers had resigned.
In all this, the president of the Supreme Court Bar Association (SCBA) Aitezaz Ahsan stated that the lawyer community would continue its fight for the restoration of judges sacked by President Pervez Musharraf in November 2007. He said that the lawyer community will revise its strategy and announce its new plans on May 17.
By and large, people have welcomed the decision by the PML-N to withdraw its ministers from the cabinet. "It is rare that someone in present day Pakistan willingly hands over power on point of principle. We must appreciate this," said Muhammad Abid, a political science student at the Karachi University. Mir Muhammad, a party worker for the PML-N, said that Sharif had "made me proud".
The Karachi Stock Exchange, however, bounced back on Tuesday on expectations that some sort of political settlement would be reached between the coalition partners in a day or two.