(Reuters) – Pakistan’s parliament threw its weight behind embattled Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif on Tuesday as a deepening crisis over violent protests demanding his resignation prompted fears of an army intervention.
Sharif, who enjoys a solid majority in the chamber, convened a joint session of parliament as he seeks to reaffirm that he is fully in control more than two weeks after mass protests seeking to bring down his government erupted in the coup-prone nation.
His office said parliament would be in session all week to allow all members of parliament to express their views. A string of politicians took stand during the first day on Tuesday, most of them expressing their resolute support for Sharif.
“This is not a protest, a sit-in or a political gathering. This is a rebellion. It is a rebellion against state institutions. It is a rebellion against the state of Pakistan,” Interior Minister Chaudhry Nisar told parliament.
“Clear guidance from this parliament would give strength to the police. … They are not revolutionaries, they are intruders and terrorists,” he said of the protesters.
Aitzaz Ahsan from the opposition Pakistan People’s Party said: “As you have said, you will not resign, no one can force you to resign. The entire parliament is with you.”
Sharif, wearing traditional Pakistani clothes, made no remarks, taking notes and listening to the speeches. A spokesman said he might speak later in the week after all the lawmakers made their speeches in alphabetical order.