The federal government has greenlighted Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) for negotiations, saying PTI Chief Imran Khan should come to the table without placing any preconditions.
Federal Interior Minister Rana Sanaullah Khan said this while speaking on Geo News' programme Aaj Shahzeb Khanzada Kay Saath on Monday.
The federal minister said he had told Imran Khan on November 26 that he would not get the date of the elections from Pindi. "I had also asked Imran Khan to contact politicians for elections," he said.
Sanaullah's statement comes after the PTI chief showed his willingness to halt the dissolution of the Punjab and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa assemblies if the coalition government agrees to conduct elections by the end of March next year.
In an interview with a private news channel, Khan said: "If they are ready for elections by the end of March, then we won't dissolve the assemblies. Otherwise, we want to conduct polls by dissolving the KP and Punjab assemblies."
Taking a further hardline approach, PTI Senior Vice-President Fawad Chaudhry said if elections talks do not materialise by December 20 then the party will dissolve the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and Punjab assemblies on December 21.
But as the PTI tries to pressure the government, a confident Sanaullah challenged Chief Minister Punjab Pervez Elahi to dissolve the provincial assembly as the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) and its allies were ready to contest the elections.
"The political damage we've already suffered comes to an end here," Sanaullah added.
The interior minister recalled that the CM of Punjab and his son Moonis Elahi claimed that former COAS General (retd) Qamar Javed Bajwa advised them to join forces with the PTI.
"When Pervez Elahi came to an understanding with us, why did he need to talk to Bajwa Sahib? Even if he had to do so, why didn't he do so before reaching an agreement with us?" he wondered.
Slamming the PTI and Pakistan Muslim League-Quaid (PML-Q), the interior minister said both parties are recalling issues related to the ex-COAS after his retirement.
In back-to-back interviews, CM Elahi maintained that the former chief of army staff Gen (retd) had asked the PML-Q to side with the PTI.
Before CM Elahi, Moonis revealed that Gen (retd) Bajwa advised his party to support the PTI when the no-confidence motion was brought against former Prime Minister Khan.
Not only this, but the PTI chief has accused the ex-COAS of betraying him and lamented that giving an extension to the retired general was his "biggest mistake".
Gen Bajwa retired last month after serving as the army chief for six years — 2016-2022 — after receiving an extension in 2019 for three years during Khan's government.
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