TALKS TO END CRISIS
ISLAMABAD - Interior Minister Rana Sanaullah Khan on Thursday said that Chairman Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) Imran Khan should directly contact Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif if he was serious in his offer of talks to the government to end the ongoing political stalemate.
“He (Khan) should ring up the prime minister to say that he is coming to meet you,” he said, adding that then the opposition party leader would get some positive response from the other side.
The remarks of the interior minister came a couple of days after former prime minister Imran Khan constituted a seven-member committee to hold negotiations with all stakeholders to steer the country out of the present uncertain situation.
In an interview to Voice of America (Urdu), Rana Sanaullah further said the government understood that it was not right time for talks in the wake of May 9 violence. He alleged that the PTI was involved in shameful acts of arson and vandalism on civil and military installations. He said that the government was fearful that it would have to face reaction from the families of martyrs if they sat with the PTI for negotiations.
“The way they (PTI workers) have disrespected monuments of martyrs … there is extreme resentment within the families of martyrs.” Responding to a question as to why politicians cannot sit with Khan, the minister said that the PTI chief himself was still not ready to sit with politicians and was only interested in forming committees for talks.
On the question of trying Khan in a military court, he accused that May 9 acts of violence were committed under the directions of the ex-premier. He said that chairman PTI should be tried under the law because he was behind the planning of this violence as many party leaders had been assigned duties in this regard in case of his arrest.
He said that some equipment, including laptops containing sensitive information, of Corps Commander House in Lahore were either stolen or set on fire leading to destruction of significant data. He said that it was the Pakistan Army which had to recover these items and the Pakistan Army Act, 1952 empowered it to do so.
Rana Sanaullah underlined if those found at the crime scene and were involved in theft have to be tried under the Army Act and why Khan should not be dealt with the same law if he was found involved in motivating such people to commit such acts.
He alleged that Khan misled youth since 2014 by injecting hatred into their minds, attacking state-owned Pakistan Television (PTV) and even initiating a civil disobedience movement. The interior minister claimed that the government had prior information that PTI’s workers would protest in case of their leader’s arrest but this was unknown to anyone that they would enter into houses, commit thefts and set them on fire. About the allegations of mistreatment of women in jails, he said that it was only PTI’s propaganda. On the recent defections within PTI after May 9 incidents, the interior minister said that those involved in planning, and execution of acts of violence would not be spared at any cost. He said that those who were not directly involved in this crime have the opportunity to evade cases if they would distance themselves publicly and assure that they were neither involved nor do so in future.
When asked whether his party PML-N will take PTI defectors into its fold, he said that his party has minimal space and they could accommodate them only in a few constituencies.