“Former PM is now trying to weaken the country’s defence,” says federal minister
Referring to the exodus of leaders from the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) after the May 9 mayhem, Defence Minister Khawaja Asif on Sunday said that those who could not bear the burden of party chairman Imran Khan's "mistakes" are parting ways with the former ruling party.
The ex-prime minister’s arrest in the Al-Qadir Trust case on May 9 and subsequent violent protests, during which workers and supporters allegedly stormed and torched sensitive state installations almost across the country, unleashed a mass exodus of leaders from the PTI.
Over 80 lawmakers and leaders of the party have bid farewell to the party after the May 9 riots.
Berating the former premier — who was removed from office via a vote of no-confidence in April last year — Asif accused Khan of shattering the country’s economy, adding that he is now trying to weaken the country's defence.
The minster said raids were conducted at the houses of Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz's (PML-N) leaders during the tenure of Imran Khan-led government but they did not evade arrest.
Referring to the May 9 riots, the defence minister said: “They have attacked the country.”
During the violent protests, the miscreants attacked the civil and military installations including — Corps Commander's House (Jinnah House) in Lahore Cantt and the General Headquarters (GHQ) in Rawalpindi.
The military called May 9 "Black Day" and decided to try the protesters under the Army Act.
“More people will it [PTI],” predicted the defence minister.
Taking a jab at Khan, Asif asked him to give more names of the negotiation team so that if some of them quit the party, then there should be a replacement for the members.
A day earlier, the PTI announced the constitution of a seven-member team for negotiating with the incumbent government on the direction of its chairman.
The negotiation team comprises PTI Vice Chairman Shah Mahmood Qureshi, former defence minister Pervez Khattak, former National Assembly speaker Asad Qaiser, PTI Sindh President Haleem Adil Sheikh, and former ministers Murad Saeed, Hammad Azhar, and Aun Abbasi.
Rejecting the negotiation offer made by the PTI, Minister for Information and Broadcasting Marriyum Aurangzeb on Saturday said that talks could not be held with those who attacked the state.
The deposed prime minister had said he was ready to speak to "anyone who is in power" after his party's top leaders began jumping ship following the May 9 riots.
Reacting to his offer, the information minister said: “Dialogue cannot be held with those who set the country on fire, create chaos and anarchy, fills the minds of masses with hatred, and harbour armed groups.”