ISLAMABAD: Pakistani Interior Minister Rana Sanaullah made it clear to beleaguered Imran Khan’s Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) party on Friday that “serious negotiations” can only be held with Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif, no one less, as the PTI did another about turn and once again expressed its wish to hold talks in the wake of PTI’s May 9 violence.
“If you seriously want to negotiate, the negotiations will be with Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif himself,” the interior minister said in a tweet.
Imran Khan had earlier formed a committee of PTI Vice Chairman Shah Mahmood Qureshi, Pervez Khattak, Asad Qaiser, Haleem Adil Sheikh, the young firebrand Murad Saeed, Hammad Azhar and Aun Abbasi, although prior to patching together this committee Imran Khan was adamant about not holding talks with incumbent leaders whom he called “thieves”.
Pakistan’s Defence Minister Khawaja Asif, recently quipped that Khan would do well to form “alternative” committees as people keep leaving his party, since a day earlier Khattak announced that he was quitting as PTI’s Khyber Pakhtunkhwa president.
The government’s top ministers have ruled out talks with the PTI although Rana Sana previously said this could happen. He also told Voice of America (VOA) that PM Shehbaz Sharif would respond “positively” if the PTI chief approached him for talks, adding that he wondered why Imran Khan forms committees to negotiate on his behalf but lacked the courage to sit down with political opponents himself.
But Rana Sana quickly qualified statement, explaining that his government thought now might not be the right time to acquiesce to talks with the PTI, as this could upset martyrs’ families because of PTI’s rampage against martyrs’ commemorative monuments on May 9.