ISLAMABAD: In what appeared to be the government’s readiness to hold snap polls, Interior Minister Rana Sanaullah invited PTI chairman Imran Khan to hold talks with the ruling alliance for an early election date.
“Decisions change and deadlocks break when politicians hold talks,” Mr Sanaullah said while speaking at a press conference after presiding over a meeting on the law and order situation here on Friday.
He said PML-N supremo Nawaz Sharif and Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif will also not refuse if Mr Khan wished to hold talks with leaders of the ruling alliance.
He asked the PTI chief to return to the parliament and behave like a politician, adding that this was the only way if he wanted early elections in the country.
“Have a mercy on the nation and leave your stubbornness so that the country can move forward. Otherwise you will be responsible for the price hike and political instability,” the minister said.
He also advised Mr Khan to postpone his protest rally in Rawalpindi scheduled for today (Saturday) to force the coalition to announce early elections, cautioning against a threat of attack by terrorist outfits.
Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) chairman should put off his “pointless” protest rally because intelligence agencies had warned the government about terrorism threats to the rally, Mr Sanaullah said. “Intelligence agencies have issued a red alert about the rally and informed the government that any terrorist or terrorist group can take advantage of the situation,” he said, adding that the PTI leader also had a threat to his life.
He pointed out that the government had already sent a letter to party leader Asad Umar, explaining nature of the threats to the PTI leader and his long march in Rawalpindi tomorrow. and said if Mr Umar wanted to verify the threats “he can sit with the agency representatives”.
Earlier this week, the ministry of interior had issued a security advisory to the PTI, warning the opposition party of the threats of militant groups and “radicalised youth” of Tehreek-i-Labbaik Pakistan (TLP) to the party chief Imran Khan and participants of its anti-government long march.
The minister said that he, in a meeting at the ministry of interior, had instructed the Punjab chief secretary and inspector general of police to guard the venue of the rally from all sides and no one should be allowed to participate without a body search.
Mr Sanaullah said that the protest rally announced by Mr Khan would be pointless as he was demanding a date for early elections.
“You will not get an early election date from Rawalpindi,” he said, while referring to the General Headquarters (GHQ).
“The establishment as an institution stands by its decision that it will confine itself to its constitutional role and will not step out of it,” the minister said.
In reply to a question about the return of Mr Nawaz Sharif to the country, he said Mr Sharif’s return was not linked with any military appointment, adding that the return of the former prime minister was linked with the acquittal of his daughter Maryam in a corruption case.
In reply to a question, the minister said the government had no mandate to launch a probe into assets of Chief of Army Staff General Qamar Javed Bajwa, whose family had reportedly become a billionaire over his six years as the army chief.
Published in Dawn, November 26th, 2022