| Rejects PM’s offer of grand national dialogue

ISLAMABAD   -   Senior Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) leader Shah Mehmood Qureshi has announced that their party would contest by-elections on 20 seats of the Punjab Assembly that had fallen vacant after the de-notification of PTI legislators over defection.

“Their party has decided to contest by-elections on 20 seats of the Punjab Assembly,” Qureshi maintained but at the same time expressed his apprehensions about the transparency of the elections.

He was addressing the media after the PTI’s core committee meeting held at Bani Gala as PTI Chairman Imran Khan arrived yesterday at his Islamabad residence following his weeks-long stay in Peshawar. Qureshi expressed apprehension that the Punjab government would employ its resources to influence the by-polls.

Meanwhile, in a video statement, Central Information Secretary Farrukh Habib said that their party has rejected Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif’s offer of holding a “grand dialogue” between all stakeholders of the country.

“The idea of a grand dialogue has been offered by the incumbent government to hide its failures as well as the inflation that has hit the country in the first 50 days of it coming into power,” he said. Qureshi said that there could be no bigger political blunder than arresting the former prime minister Imran Khan as he warned of a strong reaction to any such action by the government.

“You have to give your reaction immediately if you receive any report through social media or other media that this imported government has taken any such step,” he told the public.

He said the party has also decided in principle to challenge the new delimitations by the ECP wherein voters’ addresses had been changed for no reason. He asked the masses and the party representatives to check their data by sending a text message to 8300 and in case of change in constituency, the same must be reported to the party and the ECP for rectification.

The Election Commission of Pakistan last month had said the by-elections on the 20 vacant seats of Punjab Assembly would be held on July 17. “The ECP has a big responsibility here and if they fail to ensure transparency in elections, then a big question mark will be raised on general elections which are to be held soon,” the PTI leader said.

Meanwhile, the The PTI on Sunday rejected Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif’s offer of holding a “grand dialogue” between all stakeholders of the country.

PTI’s Central Information Secretary Farrukh Habib, in a video statement, said that the idea of a grand dialogue has been offered by the incumbent government to hide its failures as well as the inflation that has hit the country in the first 50 days of it coming into power.

Quresh also said PTI Chairman Imran Khan would hold a meeting at 1pm today to deliberate on the allocation of tickets.

He said the party has also decided that none of its MNAs would appear before the National Assembly speaker, who has summoned some PTI members today to verify their resignations. Qureshi said their resignations had already been approved and notified by then speaker Qasim Khan Suri. “Hence, there is no need to appear before Speaker Raja Pervez Ashraf again,” he added.

Qureshi also targeted the government for raising prices of petrol and edibles beyond the purchasing power of the masses. He also questioned the “silence” of Foreign Minister Bilawal Bhutto Zardari on the government’s talks with the TTP, saying the PTI government was lambasted by the opposition for such an approach. The PTI leader also said the party would get cases registered against police officers who had roughed up and tortured PTI activists on May 25. He said women parliamentarians would also stage a protest in Islamabad or Rawalpindi against the government.

Qureshi said the party would also mobilise overseas Pakistanis to lodge protests in their respective cities. “We are also preparing content and overseas Pakistanis will share it with elected representatives abroad because no civilised society allows such interference,” he added.