ISLAMABAD, Aug. 23 (Xinhua) -- Former Pakistani President and opposition leader Asif Ali Zardari on Saturday announced support for Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif at a time when two opposition parties are protesting against the government to press for resignation of the prime minister.
Zardari visited Nawaz Sharif at his residence near the eastern city of Lahore and rejected calls for resignation of the prime minister, a cabinet minister who attended the meeting said.
Cricketer-turned politician Imran Khan and a religious scholar Tahir ul Qadri have staged sit-ins in Islamabad since Aug. 14 and are calling for resignation of the prime minister and dissolution of the assemblies.
Rejecting the call, Sharif has insisted that any step would push the country towards deeper crisis.
Imran Khan has accused Sharif of forming the government through rigging in the last year's parliamentary elections. Tahir ul Qadri opposes the current system, saying that he wants to bring out a revolution.
Zardari, who leads the major opposition Pakistan Peoples Party, flew into Pakistan from the United Arab Emirate in view of the emerging political tensions, his spokesman Senator Farhatullah Babar said.
Zardari, leading a team of his senior leaders, visited the prime minister at his residence and held detailed discussions on the ongoing political situation.
"Former President Zardari assured support to the prime minister and dismissed calls for his resignation as unconstitutional," Finance Minister Ihsaq Dar told reporters after the rare Sharif- Zardari meeting.
Sharif is gaining support of majority of the opposition parties who have representation in the parliament. Both houses of the parliament have unanimously passed resolution against the demand of his resignation.
The fast growing support for the prime minister has further isolated the two opposition leaders, whose protests have led to the political polarization and badly affected the economy. The protests have had negative impact on trading in the Karachi Stock Exchange and devalued the rupee. "The two leaders have agreed to work together to defend democracy and the constitution. They reiterated the resolve to solve the current political crises remaining within the ambit of the constitution and law," Dar said.