Govt turns down Imran’s talks offer

Ruling parties’ leaders claim PTI chief seeking NRO

Our Correspondent May 28, 2023



The ruling parties have rejected beleaguered former prime minister Imran Khan’s offer for talks, stating that talks were held with politicians not terrorists and that Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) chief is now himself seeking an NRO.

The development came as the PTI chief constituted a seven-member negotiating team to hold talks with the government—for developing consensus on a date for general elections— amid a massive crackdown.

This crackdown — which has thrown the PTI into a deep existential crisis with dozens of key party leaders jumping ship every day — was launched after the party leaders and workers allegedly vandalized and set fire to state and army properties in the wake of Imran's arrest on May 9.

Responding to the offer, the supreme leader of the ruling Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N), Nawaz Sharif took to Twitter to state that talks are held only with politicians. “There will be no talks with a group of terrorists and saboteurs who burn memorials of martyrs and set the country on fire,” he said.

In a statement, Federal Minister for Information and Broadcasting Marriyum Aurangzeb said: “Those who attack the state are punished; they are not negotiated with.” She claimed that Imran’s appeal for talks is actually an appeal for an NRO.

When in power, Imran Khan often said former military ruler Gen (retd) Pervez Musharraf ended criminal cases against the leaders of various parties including the PML-N and the Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) through the National Reconciliation Ordinance (NRO) but that he would not give “looters” any NRO.

Marriyum said holding talks with those who desecrated the memorials of martyrs is a desecration of martyrs. She said Imran wants talks after burning ambulances, hospitals, schools and poisoning youths’ minds, adding there will be no talks with him.

She said parties that are not political disintegrate in the same way the PTI has. “Imran has called for talks when his party leaders have abandoned him in flocks.”
She reminded Imran that he had not talked with the opposition on economy, Kashmir, national security issues, Covid-19 and the FATF issue but he is now urging for talks.

Declaring him a “foreign agent” and “Toshakhana thief”, the information minister said negotiations are not held with the ones who allegedly looted Rs60 billion as such a person is brought to the court of law and not to the negotiations table.
Federal Minister for Poverty Alleviation and Social Safety Shazia Marri, who belongs to the PPP, said Imran was responsible for the situation arising after May 9. She said talking about talks now was nothing but eyewash.

The minister said mobs attacked Jinnah House in Lahore and the GHQ in Rawalpindi on the order of Imran. “He keeps his children in the safety of London but incites the children of the nation to commit anti-state acts,” she said.

Marri recalled that PPP Chairman Bilawal Bhutto Zardari, who currently serves as the country’s foreign minister, tried to bring political parties to the negotiating table and constituted a team consisting of senior leaders for negotiations with political parties. “Imran, however, sabotaged Bilawal’s efforts.”

She said Imran’s arrogance led to his downfall, regretting that the PTI chief did not allow the PTI to become a political party.
“Talking about negotiations after everything has been done is pretentious,” she said.

Jamiat Uleme-e-Islam (JUI-F) spokesperson Hafiz Hamdullah also called Imran the mastermind behind May 9 attacks. He said targeting military installations was tantamount to waging a war against the state. A rebel, he said, is not negotiated with but deserves severe punishment.

Hamdullah while predicting that jail will be Imran’s destination said it was time for the PTI chief to answer for his actions. “Imran’s appeal for talks is nothing but a joke”.


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