Walk the talk: PTI counsel tells High Court march can’t be called off

Prime minister willing to talk to Imran Khan if Azadi March is called off.

Our Correspondent August 12, 2014

Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif is prepared to hold talks with Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf chief Imran Khan before August 14, provided that he calls off the Azadi March, the attorney general of Pakistan told a full bench of the Lahore High Court on behalf of the prime minister on Tuesday.

The full bench headed by Justice Khalid Mahmood Khan was hearing a petition challenging the PTI’s Azadi March. The court asked counsel representing PTI for a reply to the prime minister’s statement. Advocate Ahmed Awais requested additional time to seek instructions from Khan. He was granted time till Wednesday (today). The AG said that the prime minister was ready to invite Imran Khan for talks before August 14 to resolve their ongoing differences. He said the talks would depend on whether the PTI called off the Azadi March. The bench asked Ahmed Awais to submit his reply to the prime minister’s statement. Awais said as the preparations for the Azadi March were at the final stages, it would not be possible to call it off. He said the PTI had only asked the government to order recount of polls in four constituencies but it had not paid heed. To this, Justice Khan said there was a solution to every problem and that both parties should try to resolve the matter through dialogue. He asked the counsel for PTI to reiterate the party’s demands. Awais said as the government had not been lawfully elected, it should step down and fresh elections should be held in its stead. “It is not fair that the people in south Punjab drink water from ponds while the prime minister’s household spends up to Rs5 million each day.” The government’s mandate is fake and it does not have the right to continue, Awais said. The judge said if people lost their lives in the event of Azadi March, who would shoulder the responsibility? Awais replied that 14 people had been killed at the Minhajul Quran Secretariat on June 17, yet no one had been held responsible for it. Justice Khan remarked that August 14 was a perilous day [to hold the march] and the whole setup could crumble on that day. Petitioner Advocate AK Dogar said that the march announced by the Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf claiming rigging in the general elections would only lead to anarchy in country. He said the march could derail the democratic setup in the country and allow anti-democratic forces to prevail. Petitioners challenging the march have asked the court to issue an order to the government to accede to the opposition parties’ demands and hold talks. Published in The Express Tribune, August 13th,2014.

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