ISLAMABAD: Pakistan Democrat Movement (PDM) and the allied parties in the government on Saturday dissociated themselves from Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif and Law Minister Azam Nazir Tarar’s offer to hold talks with Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) Chairman and ex-premier Imran Khan, saying inviting Imran for talks was not the decision of the PDM and allied parties.
Implying that the decision was solely taken by the prime minister or Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) leadership, the PDM spokesperson Hafiz Hamdullah said that the “law minister [and] PM’s decision to offer talks to Imran Khan is not the decision of PDM and the allied parties”.
The PDM spokesperson’s statement has come on the heels of PM Shehbaz and the law minister’s offer to the PTI chairman to come forward for talks. Not only was the offer positively reciprocated by Imran and his party but also resulted in them urging the government to decide the date and venue for initiating the dialogue.
Although PM Shehbaz has extended an olive branch to Imran and both expressed a desire to have meaningful talks for the sake of the country, its interests and democracy, some other PML-N leaders, including Information Minister Marriyum Aurangzeb as well as PML-N Senior Vice President Maryam Nawaz, have been calling Imran a “terrorist” and promoting the same on social media, potentially casting a blow to the rare opening of the possibility of talks.
On one hand, the PDM spokesperson has distanced itself and the allied parties from the prime minister’s proposal while on the other hand, Maryam has stated that the government should deal with Imran and PTI in the same way that it deals with terrorists.
With PDM’s statement and the demand to treat Imran and PTI as terrorists, rifts in the ruling coalition have started to emerge on how the government should deal with the PTI chief and his party, especially, after PTI workers’ confrontation with law enforcers as the police attempted to arrest Imran from his Zaman Park residence in Lahore earlier this week.
In the statement, while commenting on the current political situation, Hamdullah said that Imran was granted bail in eight cases within minutes, adding that “all there is left to be seen is for the injured policemen to be ordered to go to Zaman Park and seek forgiveness from Imran Khan”. Lashing out at Imran, the PDM spokesperson said that fighting against the state, courts, law, and law enforcers is jihad as per Imran’s definition.
Before the statements from the PDM spokesperson, Maryam Nawaz and Marriyum Aurangzeb, the Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) leadership had also threatened to quit the federal government over objections to the ongoing digital census and if the Centre does not fulfill its promises of providing relief to the flood victims in Sindh.
To address PPP’s reservations, the Minister for Planning, Development and Reform Ahsan Iqbal quickly allowed provincial governments access to the census monitoring dashboard in order to alleviate doubts raised by the PPP leadership on the census.
The decision to give access to the provincial governments, especially Sindh, was mainly taken to persuade the key ally to continue standing by the federal government and shun any second thoughts at a time when the country is going through a political upheaval amid severe financial crises just ahead of the general elections in Punjab and Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa.