Post-Sharif poll bar, Gilani appeals for calm

February 28th, 2009 - 9:30 pm ICT by IANS  

Nawaz SharifIslamabad, Feb 28 (IANS) Pakistani Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani Saturday appealed for calm and deplored the violent protests and ransacking of public property by supporters of opposition leader Nawaz Sharif in the wake of his being barred, along with his brother, from contesting elections.
Gilani “has appealed to those taking to the streets to show restraint and calm and use elected forums for expressing their views”, a statement issued by his office said, adding the prime minister “has deplored the ongoing violence and loss to public property in various parts of the country”.

“The Prime Minister also asked the leadership of PML-N (Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz) to dissuade their political activists from giving way to their anger on the streets and creating a law and order situation,” the statement said.

Protesters have been taking to the streets, mainly in the Punjab province, since Thursday, a day after the Supreme Court barred the Sharifs from contesting elections. The decision also led to the collapse of the Punjab government of Shahbaz Sharif, the former prime minister’s younger brother.

Nawaz Sharif has vowed to take the fight against the verdict to the people, asking them for “two weeks of their time” to protest the court order.

The PML-N had emerged as Pakistan’s second largest political party after the February 2008 general elections that saw Gilani’s Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) emerge on top. It was briefly a part of the PPP-led ruling coalition but walked out after the party reneged on a number of promises, including the reinstatement of the judges then president Pervez Musharraf had sacked after declaring an emergency in November 2007.

Meanwhile, a media report said the protesters clashed again with police in Islamabad Saturday, following which one person was arrested.

In Multan, protesters organised hunger strikes, torched an effigy of President Asif Ali Zardari, burnt tyres and blocked several roads, Geo TV said.

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