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October 20, 2019

Govt renews talks offer to avert protest march

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October 20, 2019


ISLAMABAD: The Pakistan Tehrik-e-Insaf (PTI) government renewed its talks offer to the Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam-Fazl (JUI-F) and other opposition parties which are gearing up for an anti-government march towards the federal capital on October 27.

Defence Minister Pervez Khattak, who is heading a government’s reconciliation committee to hold negotiations with JUI-F chief Maulana Fazl-ur-Rehman and leaders of other opposition parties, reiterated the talks’ offer at a press conference here on Saturday. Federal Minister for Education and Professional Training, Shafqat Mahmood was also present.

Khattak said the government was in constant contact with the JUI-F and other opposition leaders to avert the march. However, he added the other side’s reluctance to negotiate showed their ulterior motives.

To a query, he said they were also considering the addition of Chief Minister Balochistan Jam Kamal Khan in the committee. He said the government had unveiled all its cards for negotiation process and was expecting Maulana to join the talks to strengthen democratic process in the country.

Khattak said the PTI had held sit-in at the federal capital due to high inflation and corruption at that time. The minister said the peaceful protest was a constitutional right of every political party and urged Maulana Fazl to disclose his legal demands before the government for their amicable solutions. He said the JUI-F chief should refrain from launching so-called Azadi March and warned strict action would be taken if protesters damaged public property.

He urged all the political parties to develop unified stance on Kashmir cause, instead of holding demonstration that would ruin the national economy.

Khattak said Maulana Fazl should come to the table if he was a democratic person. Otherwise, his Azadi March would be considered as a conspiracy against the country. Shafqat Mehmood, on the occasion, said Maulana should not use the students of seminaries for his own political gains.

Meanwhile, Railways Minister Sheikh Rashid Ahmad said on Saturday closing doors of dialogue with the government by the JUI-F could damage democracy.

Speaking at a press conference at the Railways Headquarters here, he said JUI-F chief Maulana Fazl-ur-Rehman had not yet announced any sit-in; however, he could not become a prime minister in any case.

He said more than 600 politicians would face consequences in case democracy was derailed due to the Mualana’s protest. He said Maulana Fazl’s protest would damage Kashmir issue also by diverting public attention from atrocities of Indian forces in the occupied Kashmir.

The minister said the government was ready to provide face-saving to the Maulana and Prime Minister Imran Khan had made a committee for holding dialogue with the JUI-F.

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