'Who do you wish to speak to if not the prime minister', Rashid asks opposition

Says opposition is welcome to resign, govt to do what the constitution and law allows


Our Correspondent December 14, 2020
Interior Minister Sheikh Rashid. PHOTO: PID/FILE

ISLAMABAD:

Federal Minister for Interior Sheikh Rashid Ahmed questioned the opposition on Monday asking who they wished to speak to if not Prime Minister Imran Khan.

The newly appointed interior minister was referring to the opposition alliance's, the Pakistan Democratic Movement (PDM), stance about holding a dialogue with the premier. The stance was reiterated by the opposition in its Lahore power show on Sunday.

During the rally, Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) Chairman Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari had said "the time for dialogue has passed, now there will be a long march".

Meanwhile, Maryam Nawaz of Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML) questioned the premier's offer for dialogue through parliament, asking who was behind the operations of the lower house.

Addressing the media in Islamabad, Sheikh Rashid said, "We are an elected, democratic government and, under the leadership of Imran Khan, we will take this country forward. We don't want to close the doors for dialogue.”

“PDM buried its politics yesterday at the same place they used to make tall claims” he maintained, adding that, “if people from Maulana Fazlur Rehman's madrassa had not come to the Lahore rally, the opposition would have had to face a lot of disappointment.”

Speaking on the opposition's decision to resign from parliament en masse, he said "We are waiting for the resignations of the PDM members. If they want to do long marches then do it and if they have to resign then resign, we will do what the constitution and law allows.”

The federal minister further stated, “The opposition leaders are spending billions of rupees on meetings and have come to the streets to save the money they have looted in the first place.”

Talking about the prime minister, Rashid said that PM Imran will complete his five year term. However, he added that, "Imran Khan has explicitly said he will leave his seat but will not give the opposition an NRO. He directed me to say this during the press conference [that] the sun can rise from the West and set in the East [...] but he will not give them an NRO."

The minister, in reference to PML-N leader Nawaz Sharif, said that incompetent convicts and fugitives talk irresponsibly about the armed forces

“Speaking against state institutions is part of your every agenda,” Sheikh Rashid maintained while referring to Nawaz.

An adamant opposition held its final showdown at Lahore’s Minar-e-Pakistan on Sunday as the ‘first phase’ of its anti-government campaign, under the 11-party alliance, came to a close.

The public meeting was held despite the PDM leaders being issued security threat alerts as well as being requested by the government to not hold public gatherings as the second Covid-19 wave intensified in the country. Addressing a press conference on Saturday, Punjab Chief Minister Usman Buzdar warned the opposition of necessary action being taken if laws were violated.

The gathering was addressed by the usual bigwigs of the PDM – its convener and Jamiat Ulema Islam – Fazl (JUI-F) chief Maulana Fazlur Rehman, Pakistan Muslim League – Nawaz (PML-N) Vice President Maryam Nawaz and Pakistan Peoples Party Chairman Bilawal Bhutto Zardari – besides being addressed by leaders of the opposition parties that are a part of the alliance.

PML-N supremo Nawaz Sharif also addressed the rally via video-link from London, where he is receiving medical treatment for his ailment due to which he had left the country last year.

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