PM dismisses 'arsonist, anarchist' PTI's fence-mending calls

PM Shehbaz says PTI does not "qualify for a dialogue"; demands party's accountability for "militant actions"

Web Desk
Preime Minister Shehbaz Sharif photographed while talking to media in this undated image. — AFP/File
Preime Minister Shehbaz Sharif photographed while talking to media in this undated image. — AFP/File

  • PM says many political breakthroughs made when leaders talked.
  • He says there is major difference when it comes to Khan-led party.
  • PM says anarchists wearing garb of politicians don't qualify for talks.

Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif said Tuesday his government was unwilling to talk with Imran Khan's Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) due to the party's nation-wide violent riots on May 9.

The prime minister, in a tweet, acknowledged that dialogue is deeply embedded in the political process, which helps democracy mature and evolve.

"Many political and constitutional breakthroughs occurred when political leaders sat across the table to craft a consensus," the premier mentioned.

But he said there is a major difference when it comes to the Khan-led party.

"The anarchists & arsonists who wear the garb of politicians and attack the symbols of the State do not qualify for a dialogue. They should rather be held to account for their militant actions."

The deposed prime minister — who was removed from office via a vote of no confidence in April last year — said he is ready to speak to "anyone who is in power" after his party's top leaders began jumping ship following the May 9 riots.

Khan had said that he was forming a committee which will talk to "anyone who is in power" on two things.

"If it helps the country according to 'them', I will leave politics. Second, how is it beneficial for the country if elections are held in October," Khan had said about the objective of the committee.

The PTI had last week announced the constitution of a seven-member team for negotiating with the incumbent government on the direction of its chairman.

The negotiation team comprises PTI Vice Chairman Shah Mahmood Qureshi, former defence minister Pervez Khattak, former National Assembly speaker Asad Qaiser, PTI Sindh President Haleem Adil Sheikh, and former ministers Murad Saeed, Hammad Azhar, and Aun Abbasi.

Khan’s party has been feeling the heat of the state’s might after his party workers burnt and smashed military installations, including the General Headquarters in Rawalpindi, after his arrest on May 9 — a day the army dubbed as “Black Day”.

Several party leaders and thousands of workers have been rounded up in connection with the violent protests and the army has insisted that the people involved in attacks on military installations be tried under the Pakistan Army Act and the Official Secrets Act.

In a similar statement to that of the prime minister, Federal Minister for Information and Broadcasting Marriyum Aurangzeb also rejected the PTI chief's offer for talks.

Reacting to his offer, the information minister said: “Dialogue cannot be held with those who set the country on fire, create chaos and anarchy, fills the minds of masses with hatred, and harbour armed groups.”

She said that Khan was not appealing for negotiations, he was, in fact, seeking an “NRO”.

The information minister said talks cannot be held with those who “poisoned the minds of the youth”, the "leaders of the criminals and terrorists".