Nawaz tells PM not to engage Imran in talks

PML-N supremo says Imran’s emphasis is on foul language; Shehbaz should focus on serving people


Rizwan Shehzad   October 31, 2022

ISLAMABAD:

Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) supremo Nawaz Sharif stopped Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif on Monday from engaging in talks with Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) Chairman Imran Khan in connection with his long march.

The PML-N supremo asked the prime minister from London neither he should neither listen to any demands nor give any face saving to PTI chairman no matter “if he brings 2,000 or 20,000 people to the capital”.

PTI Chairman and former prime minister Imran Khan started his long march – dubbed as ‘Haqeeqi Azadi March’ – towards Islamabad from Lahore on Friday. Imran said that his only demand was the date of the early general elections.

On Saturday, the prime minister formed a 13-member committee, including representatives from the ruling coalition parties regarding the march, saying that anyone wishing talks, could approach the committee.

In a series of tweets, Nawaz said that Imran was desperately looking for face saving. He said that Imran frequently claimed to bring a million people to Islamabad but has not yet managed to gather 2,000 people.

Nawaz said that the reason for the indifference of the people was Imran’s evil lies that have been exposed before the nation. “He [Imran] told one lie after another so brazenly and stubbornly that the DG ISI [Inter-Services Intelligence] was forced to break his silence and tell the nation the truth, which he could not answer even after so many days,” he stated.

“That is why,” Nawaz maintained, “Imran’s all emphasis as usual is on foul language”.

He added: “I have told Shahbaz Sharif that whether he [Imran] brings 2,000 or 20,000 people, neither he [the prime minister] should listen to any demand of this fitna [mischief] nor give him any face saving, for which he is desperate,” Nawaz tweeted, adding that Prime Minister Shehbaz should focus all his attention on serving the people.

On October 27, in an unprecedented press conference, the ISI chief, flanked by director general of the Inter-Services Public Relations (ISPR), had questioned why the army was being dragged into all kinds of controversies.

The ISI chief went at length to dilate upon the modus operandi of upheavals going on since the ouster of Imran Khan’s government, and as to how issues were being concocted to make an issue out of non-issues.

On October 26, Nawaz had also tweeted that Imran’s long march was not for any revolution but to appoint an army chief of his liking, saying that the people had already seen his revolution during his four-year tenure.

Nawaz’s latest tweets have come on the heels of Imran’s tweet wherein he said that he has been witnessing a revolution taking over the country for the last six months, saying the “only question is will it be a soft one through the ballot box or a destructive one through bloodshed”.

Imran, who started his long march from Lahore on October 28, is slowly moving towards Islamabad with one-point agenda of holding free and fair elections at the earliest in the country. The PTI chief has been demanding snap polls soon after he was ousted through a vote of no-confidence in April this year.

Since then, Imran has held rallies in many cities, won the by-elections in Punjab and the one held on the National Assembly seats that fell vacant after PTI lawmakers resigned en masse.

Though the PTI’s 123 lawmakers had resigned but National Assembly Speaker Raja Parvaiz Ashraf had accepted the resignations of only a handful of the lawmakers.

Subsequently, the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) announced elections on the vacant seats where Imran made history once again by winning six out of eight seats.

The victory in by-polls in Punjab and on the National Assembly seats has given the PTI chairman an indication that people were with him and if the country goes for snap polls his party could come back in power.

On the other hand, the PML-N-led ruling alliance has frequently been saying that general elections would be held on time and there was no chance of holding early elections in the country, which has severely been affected the climate-induced rains and floods affecting roughly 33 million people.

Reportedly, there was a time when the PML-N leadership decided to go for early elections but when Imran announced his previous long march in May this year seeking date for the next general election, Prime Minister Shehbaz along with top leadership of the allied parties decided that they would now complete the remaining constitutional term.

At the moment, Imran is constantly building pressure on the government for snap polls but the ruling alliance has repeatedly rejected his demands and offered talks on charter of economy, among other things. With Nawaz’s latest tweet, it seems the door for negotiations will remain closed for some time.

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