Pakistan’s relations with Taliban govt in Kabul cordial, says Sh Rashid

ISLAMABAD   -   Downplaying the opposition’s resolve to oust the PTI government, Interior Minister Sheikh Rashid Ahmed Sunday said they can try all they want but they will not succeed.

Commenting on the meeting between leaders of the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) and Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) on Saturday last at a lunch in PML-N President Shehbaz Sharif’s Model Town residence in Lahore, he said these very parties, which often indulged in blame game against each other, were now going to unite against the government only for their self-interests. “They do not have any sympathy for the masses,” he added.

Addressing a press conference here, the Interior Minister said the opposition is dying on its own. He said the long marches by the opposition will fail. “These people say they will send our government home, but they will surely fail,” he added. If they want to bring a no-trust vote against PM Imran Khan they are more than welcome to do so, he said, adding that they can all join hands against the government but they will still fail.

Wondering over the brand of politics practiced by the opposition parties, the minister said earlier they were talking about resigning from the assemblies en masse, then there was a talk of marching on Islamabad. “I think they are going to create a lot of problems for themselves,” Sh Rashid warned, adding if those who had laundered the country’s money abroad wanted to come to Islamabad, they were most welcome. “We are not afraid of them,” he stated. He dared the opposition to throw the government out of the power corridors if they had the capability to do so.

The minister was of the view that Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam-Fazl (JUI-F) Chief Maulana Fazlur Rehman should bear in mind that both PPP and PML-N had ditched him as he was not invited to Saturday’s lunch in Lahore. He said Fazl used to say that he will remove Imran Khan from the government ‘like a fly out of milk’, but now it’s the PPP and the PML-N that removed him in this manner from the Saturday’s meeting in Lahore. Maulana Fazl can try all he wants but the PPP and PML-N will not resign from the assemblies, Rashid claimed. He further said that the long march will not succeed either.

Sh Rashid said he had asked the opposition to change the date for their protest but now “I want them to come”. “These people are trying to foment instability,” he alleged. These money launderers have put Pakistan in crisis, he added. He said he had never called former president Asif Ali Zardari as Mr. 10 percent or Bilawal ‘selected’.

Speaking about the security operation in Balochistan, Sh Rashid said the state will go after anyone who would pick arms against it. The security forces killed 20 militants in the three-day-long operation and nine army personnel got martyred as a result of the operation, he added. The minister said the attackers had received help from India, adding that the government will talk to anyone but not to those who would attack the state installations.

She Rashid expressed ignorance about any talks taking place between Pakistan and the Tehrik-i-Taliban Pakistan (TTP). He said he would go to Balochistan after the cabinet’s meeting to pay tributes to those personnel of the law-enforcement agencies who had laid their lives while fighting the terrorists. He further said that Pakistan’s relations with the Taliban government in Afghanistan were cordial, and it was the government’s desire that the situation in the country improved further.

The minister said the government will also take up the issue of prisoners in the Gulf countries, particularly Saudi Arabia, during the visit of its interior minister to Pakistan. “We are also in touch with Qatar, Bahrain, and Kuwait to bring back our citizens imprisoned over petty crimes,” he added.

He informed the media that his Saudi counterpart was reaching Islamabad today. “I will take up with him the issue of release of Pakistanis from Saudi jails,” he told the media.

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