Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) has upped the ante for peace talks with the Taliban and warned the federal government that if it delayed negotiations, the Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa government will take the lead.
PTI chief Imran Khan, while addressing a press conference after a meeting with party parliamentarians on Thursday, reiterated his party’s stance to block Nato supply routes if the talks are sabotaged with continued drone strikes.
The PTI chairman, on Thursday, held a meeting with PTI MPs on local body elections, delimitation of constituencies and party’s preparations for the upcoming polls for the office of opposition leader in the Punjab Assembly.
Responding to a question, Khan said that party vice chairman Shah Mehmood Qureshi had met Interior Minister Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan and assured him of PTI’s full cooperation in the process, according to the mandate of the All Parties Conference.
“If the progress is slow from the government’s side, then the K-P government will initiate parlays with the Taliban itself,” Khan said adding that the party’s core committee was going to meet on Saturday to deliberate on whether to stop Nato supplies if likely talks were hijacked by drone strikes.
Talking about the position of the leader of the opposition in the National Assembly, Khan said he did not want to become the opposition leader by using others as ladders. He also said that the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) government’s honeymoon period was about to end as PTI aimed to give it a tough time on all national issues on the floor of the parliament.
Free and fair polls
Regarding recounting of thumb impressions in four constituencies, Khan said that if the process wasn’t carried out his party will launch protests.
“PTI will hold the biggest protest in the country’s history in Islamabad and invite Jamat-e-Islami, Tahirul Qadri, Sheikh Rashid Ahmad and civil society members to join the protest for justice,” he said adding that those in power were once again making efforts to rig the upcoming local body polls.
He alleged that the exercise of delimitation in constituencies of Punjab was ‘pre-poll rigging’ as the political leadership had intervened in the process.
“The Punjab government has constituted District Coordination Committee in districts where there is not a single lawmaker from PTI. These committees have been provided with Rs2.4 billion to carry on development schemes,” he said, citing the endeavour as pre-poll rigging.
He said his party would adopt the legal way to counter pre-poll rigging and would not allow local body polls to be conducted the same way as the May 11 general elections.
“We will be on the roads, protesting, if our legal demands are not heeded,” he warned.
Published in The Express Tribune, November 1st, 2013.
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