LAHORE - In connection with the negotiations with the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI), Railways Minister Khawaja Saad Rafique on Sunday made it clear that there was no way to negotiate with the embattled party following the events that transpired on May 9.
Speaking to media outside the Jinnah House in Lahore, Mr Rafique took a swipe at former prime minister Imran Khan over forming a seven-member committee in a bid to negotiate with the incumbent government. “Who’s going to talk to them,” he questioned. Mr Rafique claimed that Mr Khan had asked his team to end negotiations with the government, which were held last month on the orders of the Supreme Court. In line with the May 9 vandalism, Mr Rafique had urged Mr Khan and the PTI leadership to admit their mistake and apologise to the entire nation. “They [PTI] should issue a public apology. What the PTI did was not under the guise of politics,” Mr Rafique added. On Sunday, Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) supremo Nawaz Sharif ruled out any possibility of holding talks with the PTI.
It comes minutes after PTI chief Imran Khan had formed a seven-member committee to hold negotiations with the PDM-led government. Taking to Twitter, he wrote, “Talks are held with politicians only. No talks will be held with the group that desecrated martyrs’ graves, and terrorists who burned the country.” The PTI committee includes senior vice president Shah Mehmood Qureshi, Parvez Khattak, Asad Qaisar, Haleem Adil Sheikh, Aon Abbas Buppi, Murad Saeed, and Hammad Azhar. Some of the leaders Mr Khan named are either in jail, hiding from arrests, or being speculated about leaving the party amid PTI’s mass exodus. Earlier, PTI chief Imran Khan appealed the political stakeholders to hold “immediate talks” as the party had been seeing scores of its members parting their ways.
Mr Khan said whenever he called for dialogue, he began to face mounted pressure. “Do not dare think that I am weak because whenever I call for it, police come outside my home, and warrants are issued,” he added. He went on to say that crackdown was launched against the party without investigating the attacks on Lahore’s Commander House. He asked if anyone would like to harm the army, adding that attacking the army was akin to weakening the country. Speaking to journalists earlier, Mr Khan said he could swear that he never asked his party activist to vandalise [national buildings], adding that how could he ask them to do so now even when he did not allow so after he survived an assassination attempt [in Wazirabad]. “If the PTI is popular with public, why will it adopt the policy of siege,” he asked.