The Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) has announced the party’s lawmakers will return the salaries of the period they boycotted the National Assembly sessions.
While addressing the media after a party meeting in Islamabad on Thursday, PTI Chairman Imran Khan said the salaries received by the legislators during the time they were absent from the National Assembly during the 126-day-long sit-in in Islamabad would be deposited back with the government.
The PTI had announced boycotting all assembly proceedings in August 2014 after launching its sit-in campaign in Islamabad against the government over alleged rigging in the May 2013 general elections. A week later, the lawmakers submitted their resignations, which were not accepted.
Read: PTI lawmakers return amid slurs and walkouts
After a seven-month absence, the party returned to the National Assembly fold in April this year after the government accepted its demand for setting up a judicial commission to probe rigging claims.
The PTI chief said that Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa (K-P) Mines and Minerals Minister Ziaullah Khan Afridi, who was arrested by the provincial accountability commission over embezzlement charges, would have to resign from his post as the inquiry takes place.
He claimed the arrest had been possible because the K-P accountability commission was independent. “I had promised that the bureau will be independent and will not differentiate between members of the opposition or the government.” he said. “If the commission clears him [Afridi] of corruption charges, he would return,” Imran added.
Regarding the formation of local governments in K-P, the PTI chief said his party would choose an upright person for the post of nazim (mayor).
About the inclusion of PPP members in his party, he said the PPP was the only national party whose members were ideological but the politics of reconciliation between the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz and PPP had alienated them.
Afghan peace talks
Imran also welcomed the start of dialogue between the Afghan government and Taliban – a day after the first round of negotiations between the two sides concluded.
Read: No show, no pay: Salaries of PTI’s absent lawmakers stopped
“It has been my stance for many years that the final decision should be taken on the table,” he said. “I was criticised when I first floated the idea of talks [with militants].”
He added that a peaceful Afghanistan would have far-reaching, positive effects on Pakistan. “Dialogues will help differentiate between sectarian terrorists, hardliners and those who resorted to extremism after the American invasion of Afghanistan.”
Published in The Express Tribune, July 10th, 2015.