“I’m appealing to this parliament that these things need to be taken care of immediately. This house has to take action today if we want to save Pakistan,” Shehbaz said, adding: “Enough is enough. Now law has to take its course.”

ISLAMABAD: Pakistani Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif appealed to parliament on Tuesday to act against predecessor Imran Khan over accusations that his party was involved in violence that erupted when police tried to arrest him for alleged corruption.

The clashes occurred earlier this month after Khan’s supporters prevented police and paramilitary forces from detaining him over allegations he unlawfully sold state gifts during his 2018-22 tenure as premier. He denies any wrongdoing.

Last week Interior Minister Rana Sanaullah asked for a parliamentary ruling to empower authorities to crack down on Khan’s party and his supporters.

“Did you ever see law enforcement officers going to serve a court summons on someone and then being attacked with petrol bombs?” Sharif asked lawmakers in a speech telecast live.

“I’m appealing to this parliament that these things need to be taken care of immediately. This house has to take action today if we want to save Pakistan,” he said, adding: “Enough is enough. Now law has to take its course.”

Sharif did not spell out what action he wanted the parliament to take against Khan.

Some of Sharif’s ministers have called for a ban on Khan’s Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) party, but it was not clear whether the government was seeking this from parliament.

‘Law of jungle’ or rule of law

Sharif asked the parliamentarians to categorically decide if they wanted to continue with the prevailing ‘law of the jungle’ in the country or legislate for upholding the rule of law.

“Today, the fight is between democracy and fascism It is high time that we take a decision with collective wisdom,” he said.

Sharif said the country was at the watershed of history and it was important for the parliament to legislate on “matters concerning the country”.

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Security personnel escort a car carrying Pakistan's former Prime Minister Imran Khan as he arrives at the high court in Islamabad on March 27, 2023 Image Credit: AFP

He said the 1973 Constitution had defined the ambit of the State institutions and set a red line about their functioning.

“Today this Constitution has become a joke and the country is suffering from a serious situation,” he said.

The prime minister said Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf chairman Imran Khan was enjoying immunity from the rule of law despite his persistent blackmailing and abuse of the judiciary.

“We need a categorical decision if we want to give relief to the nation or the ‘favoured one’ who does not abide by the law,” he said.

He pointed out that Khan, who was habitual of not appearing before courts and frequently mocked the judiciary, was still getting extensions in bail.

Sharif recalled that senior leadership of his party faced imprisonment for fake cases registered against them, however, no leniency was extended to them.

“On the other hand, he [Imran Khan] has got a long ‘innings’. Every court in the country is granting him an extension. Is this the criteria of justice,” he raised a question before the House.

He said the three pillars of the State, including legislature, judiciary and executive, had to play their due role, otherwise, the time would be left with regrets only.

“We have to decide for the future of the nation and take guidance from law and constitution,” he said.

The prime minister termed as a ‘ray of hope’ the 4-3 decision of judges in a suo moto case regarding elections that dismissed the proceedings contending that the chief justice of Pakistan does not have the power to restructure benches without the consent of the respective judges.

Sharif’s coalition government, which took office after a parliamentary vote of no confidence ousted former cricket star Khan last year, has alleged that Khan’s supporters had Islamist militants among them.

Since being removed, Khan has been demanding early elections and holding protests across the country to press his case.

The clashes between Khan’s supporters and security forces have brought a new flare-up of political instability to the country of 220 million people, which is in the midst of a crippling economic crisis.