The decision sparked protests across the country. Local television showed images of demonstrators in Islamabad, Rawalpindi, Lahore and Karachi, some of them burning tires in the streets and blocking roads. But there was no indication that the protesters were using violence.
Still, the decision has created fear that Pakistan is headed for even more instability as the government and the Taliban in the northwest frontier discuss imposing Islamic law in the Swat Valley.
"It seems to be Pakistan's destiny and fate to stumble from one crisis to another," Ayaz Amir, a member of Sharif's party, told a local television channel.