Wednesday Mar 22, 2023
A day after a six-hour-long meeting of the heads of the component parties of the Pakistan Democratic Movement (PDM) — a 13-party ruling alliance — National Assembly Speaker Raja Pervaiz Ashraf, while exercising his powers under Joint Sitting Rules 1973, has made a change in the schedule of the joint session of parliament.
As per the new schedule, the joint sitting of parliament will convene on Wednesday (tomorrow) instead of 10th of next month to "take important decisions" to enforce the state's authority, media reported, in the midst of prolonged anti-government defiance by Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) Chairman Imran Khan.
The meeting will be held on March 22 at 4pm at the Parliament House in Islamabad.
The office of the speaker of parliament, in calling Wednesday's joint session, did not give a reason but the state-run Associated Press of Pakistan (APP) said the ruling coalition had called for parliament to "take important decisions" to ensure the writ of the state was enforced.
The APP, reporting on a meeting attended by Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif and his cabinet, cited the participants as saying Khan's PTI was not a political party but "rather a gang of militants", and its "enmity against the state" could not be tolerated.
Imran Khan was prime minister from 2018 until 2022 when he was ousted from office in a parliamentary vote. Since then, he has been demanding a new election and holding protests across the country to press his case.
PTI supporters have clashed with police several times over recent days as authorities try to force him to appear in court in connection with various cases brought against him.
PM Shehbaz has rejected Khan's demand for a new election saying it would be held as scheduled later this year.
Parliament will meet in Islamabad as Khan's supporters gather for his latest rally in the eastern city of Lahore.
The clashes between Khan's supporters and the security forces have brought a new round of political instability to the country, which is in the midst of a crippling economic crisis.
Police have arrested hundreds of Khan's supporters in raids in recent days in response to the clashes.
Khan appeared on Tuesday before the Lahore High Court to apply for protective bail in fresh cases against him, PTI leader Mussarat Jamshed Cheema told Reuters.
The former prime minister is also appearing before a bench hearing a case he has filed against the police for raiding his home, which he says was in violation of court orders granting him protective bail last week.