Thursday June 20, 2024

Govt rejects Imran Khan’s ‘conditional talks’ offer

The government Saturday turned down Imran Khan’s invitation to parleys for early elections, arguing that threats and talks could not go together

By Ali Raza
December 04, 2022
Khawaja Saad Rafique addressing a press conference along with Interior Minister Rana Sanaullah on December 3, 2022.
Khawaja Saad Rafique addressing a press conference along with Interior Minister Rana Sanaullah on December 3, 2022. 

LAHORE: The government Saturday turned down Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) Chairman Imran Khan’s invitation to parleys for early elections, arguing that threats and talks could not go together.

“They should sit with us for unconditional negotiations,” said Minister for Railways Khawaja Saad Rafique adding that strings attached to talks would not serve the purpose.

He was addressing a joint press conference with Federal Minister for Interior Rana Sanaullah.

Imran Khan had invited the PDM-led government to talk over the possibility of early polls and warned that around 66pc of Pakistan would have to vote for by-polls if the governments in Punjab and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa dissolved the assemblies.

“It’s them (PTI), who need talks, not us. They start the talk of talks and then shy away from even talking about it,” said Rafique, adding, “Negotiations are part of political process and complex problems are resolved when two sides hear each other out”.

He said dissolution of assemblies was not an act to be proud of for the Pakistan Muslim League Nawaz (PMLN) led government. “We want the assemblies to complete their constitutional term.”

“If Imran Khan is serious then he should understand threats and negotiations are mutually exclusive,” the minister said adding that the government’s allies had severe reservations about holding talks with the PTI.

He said the government would hold unofficial talks with the PTI, and the party was told that the PDM would be the one to decide if they wanted dialogue or not.

The interior minister, speaking to the press, warned Imran Khan against offering talks topped with threats and asked him to revisit his behaviour. “He [Khan] will not get anything due to his threatening behaviour,” Sanaullah said.

“Imran Khan did not shake hands with the opposition for four whole years,” he said adding during the briefing on Palwana incident, all important personalities including Zardari Sahib and Shehbaz Sharif were in this briefing, but he was stubborn that he would not come.

Earlier on Saturday, Sanaullah told the media that in politics, parties had to work together because no progress could be made without talks and negotiations.

He, however, said that the ruling coalition had no backdoor links with Chief Minister Punjab Parvez Elahi.

Moving on, Saad Rafique said it was Imran Khan, who mocked Shehbaz Sharif’s charter of the economy and subjected him to ‘NRO’ taunts, despite the fact that PMLN had been part of the legislative process when they were in opposition. He (Khan) was the first prime minister who used to skip seats to come to the Parliament so as not to meet the opposition, the railway minister said.

“Imran Khan’s constitutional term ended in a constitutional and democratic way.”

Earlier, the PMLN leadership held an emergency meeting under the chairmanship of PM Shehbaz Sharif on Saturday, in which possible measures to prevent the dissolution of the Punjab Assembly were discussed.

The meeting was held at the Model Town residence of PMLN President and PM Shehbaz Sharif, who informed the participants about recommendations he received through virtual meetings with PMLN supremo Nawaz Sharif and Pakistan Democratic Movement (PDM) leaders over the current crucial issue facing the country.

The PMLN Punjab leadership briefed the PM about the number game in the Punjab Assembly. Technical details regarding imposition of governor’s rule were also discussed in the meeting.

Shehbaz Sharif was informed about the contacts with the disgruntled PTI members and the present status of the suspended members of the Punjab Assembly.

The meeting was also attended by federal ministers, senior party leaders, special assistants to the prime minister and members of the Punjab Assembly including PMLN Central Vice President Hamza Shehbaz, Law Minister Azam Nazir Tarar, Ahad Cheema, Attaullah Tarar, Malik Ahmed Khan, Owais Leghari, Khawaja Salman Rafique and others.