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Govt approaches Imran Khan on sit-in

ISLAMABAD: Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif’s well-wishers have reportedly asked him to tackle Imran Khan’s lockdown programme politically and not administratively, while a senior minister has also contacted the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf chief to reconsider its move.

National Party, Pakhtunkhwa Milli Awami Party (PKMAP) and some senior leaders of the ruling Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) firmly believe that the government should tackle the lockdown issue politically, and in the light of these suggestions, the premier has tasked some PML-N leaders as well as National Party President Hasil Bizenjo to talk the PTI leadership out of the planned protest.

Although Imran Khan has categorically refused to talk with the government committee and is firm about his decision to go on with the sit-in, the government is working hard to persuade him otherwise, sources said.

They added that a senior cabinet minister and in-charge of the law and order in the federal capital, Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan, had also approached the PTI chief and exchanged text messages over the issue of the Islamabad lockdown plan.
The interior minister was of the view that the PTI should adopt a legal procedure for their protest – by filing an application with the Islamabad administration and taking prior permission for staging the sit-in. He told Imran that if his party leaders or workers took law into their hands and uses force to shut the city down then law would take its course.

Imran responded by saying that holding a protest was people’s democratic rights, and it was Nawaz Sharif’s government that forced him to take this step, said the sources.

He told the minister that if the government forces tried to arrest him or his workers, the government would be responsible for the consequences, sources told.

When contacted, Interior Ministry spokesman Sarfraz Ahmed showed his ignorance over the matter. “I am not aware of any such contact between Interior Minister Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan and PTI Chairman Imran Khan.”

On the other hand, former interior minister Rehman Malik told the media at the Parliament House on Friday that both the government and the PTI were in contact and trying to settle the issue before November 2.

It may be mentioned here that the PTI chief had hit back at the premier for a speech against him and demanded a swift response to accusations of corruption levelled against Nawaz Sharif and his family after the Panamagate.

He had said that 2018 was “too far” and the premier would have to be answerable on revelations of the Panama Papers right now.

“Nawaz Sharif is under some delusion that people will forget Panama corruption” after seeing the government making roads and the premier cutting ribbons, he said.

Imran had also accused the premier of “making a mockery” of the party’s election and said the people “cannot even hope for [free and fair] elections from them, as Nawaz Sharif is running his political business like a dictator”.

Imran on September 30’s ‘Raiwind march’ gave Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif until Muharram to “either present himself for accountability or allow state institutions to take action against him”, failing which the PTI would bring the federal capital to a standstill.

About six months have gone past but a ‘criminal’ continues to rule this country, he alleged, in a veiled reference to the country’s premier. He lamented that there had been no serious investigations into the Panamagate.

The PTI leader warned that his party was fully prepared to counter any hurdle that the government might put in way of the protesters. He also admitted that people of the capital city might have to face some inconveniences during the protest, but urged them to render “this sacrifice to be able to bring about change”.