Pakistani opposition leader Imran Khan has pulled out of talks with the government, vowing to stay with thousands of protesters outside parliament until the prime minister steps down.
For a week, the ex-cricketer and the cleric Tahir ul-Qadri have led rallies in the capital Islamabad to demand the resignation of Nawaz Sharif over claims of corruption and that he rigged last year’s election.
Though present in parliament on Thursday, Sharif was scheduled to address the assembly but failed to do so. MPs did however reject demonstrators’ calls for him to quit as unconstitutional.
The peaceful protests have also shone a spotlight on the central issue in Pakistani politics: competition for power between the armed forces and civilian leaders. The military is widely seen as benefiting from their power struggle, with the government forced to rely on the army for security.