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Monday May 27, 2024

PM invites Imran to APC as Pakistan faces daunting challenges

Move comes as country faces rising terrorism, economic and political crises

By Ayaz Akbar Yousufzai
February 02, 2023
A combo photo of PTI Chairman Imran Khan (left) and Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif. —Instagram/AFP/File
A combo photo of PTI Chairman Imran Khan (left) and Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif. —Instagram/AFP/File

ISLAMABAD: In a surprise turn of events, Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif Thursday extended an invitation to Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) Chairman Imran Khan to attend an all-parties conference (APC) set up to find ways to surmount the daunting economic and political crises brewing in the country.

The prime minister seeks to bring heads of all political parties on the table so they can join heads and figure out ways to address "important national challenges", Information Minister Marriyum Aurangzeb said in a statement. The conference is set to take place in Islamabad on February 7.

In this regard, she said, Federal Minister Ayaz Sadiq has begun contacting top PTI leaders — including former National Assembly speaker Asad Qaiser and ex-defence minister Pervez Khattak — and asked them to participate in the upcoming moot.

The invitation is a major development as the PDM-led government and the PTI have always been at loggerheads over almost all national issues, not only since Khan's ouster from the PM Office, but even when the tables were turned.

The move comes as Pakistan faces a severe threat of terrorism and distressing economic and political situations, with no signs of respite soon.

The prime minister, according to the statement, has also invited two representatives from the PTI to participate in the Apex committee meeting — scheduled for tomorrow (Friday) in Peshawar.

During the committee's meeting, all stakeholders — police, Rangers, officials from intelligence agencies, and others — will participate, according to the minister.

The meeting will discuss Monday's Peshawar suicide bombing, ways to root out terrorism, and the upgradation of the police and counter-terrorism department (CTD).

The meeting holds importance as the government faces an uphill task when it comes to terrorism. The terror attacks have witnessed a spike after the outlawed Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) ended its ceasefire with Islamabad in November last year. 

Meanwhile, a breakthrough on the political front would bring much-needed stability to the country, as investors need assurance that the nation of 220 million people is a viable place despite all the challenges.

The State Bank of Pakistan (SBP)-held foreign exchange reserves have also plunged to precarious levels as the cash-strapped nation desperately seeks to revive the stalled bailout programme of the International Monetary Fund (IMF).

Due to foreign debt payments, the central bank said its reserves fell $592 million to $3,086.2 million during the week ended on January 27, their lowest since February 2014, and are barely enough to provide import cover for 18.5 days (0.61 months).

'Consultations' underway

In response, Qaiser told Geo News that the government had contacted him for sending PTI representatives to participate in tomorrow's Apex committee meeting.

"The party's senior leadership is mulling over the government's invitation. After the consultations, we will inform the government of our final decision," the ex-NA speaker said.

He added that the PTI chief — a strong critic of the incumbent government — would make the final call.

Another senior PTI leader, Pervez Khattak, told Geo News that he wasn't aware of the Apex committee meeting and that he had not received any invitation for the moot.

When Geo News reached out to KP-based Jamaat-e-Islami (JI) leader Inayatullah Khan, he said that his party did not receive an invitation to the meeting.

Meanwhile, a spokesperson for the Awami National Party (ANP) said that the party had received the invite and KP President Aimal Wali Khan would partake in the meeting.