ISLAMABAD: Two weeks into his anti-government protest in the federal capital, Pakistan Tehreek-Insaf (PTI) Chairman Imran Khan maintains his defiant stance that the prime minister step down in order for an independent investigation of alleged election rigging.
In an address to protestors who have been encamped at D-Chowk for nine days, the PTI leader on Wednesday refused to continue negotiations with the government and was resolute on continuing the sit-in till the time Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif steps down.
“There will be no negotiations with your team now. No resignation, no negotiations,” he told a crowd of supporters.
Thousands of PTI supporters have camped outside Parliament in Islamabad’s high-security Red Zone in anti-government protests against alleged election rigging in the 2013 polls. In his fresh address today, Imran remained unflinching in his demand for Nawaz's resignation and said that he will not give in to the government's efforts to "buy him out".
A fifth round of negotiations between the government and PTI ended earlier today, with no apparent sign of a breakthrough.
The talks took place at PTI leader Jehangir Tareen's residence. DawnNews correspondent Samar Abbas said the body language of the government team appeared to show that it had yet to achieve a breakthrough in the deadlock.
The PTI has put forward a list of six demands, which include the resignation of Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif – a demand from which the party is not willing to budge.
“How can I get justice with Nawaz Sharif still in the chair,” he said speaking to the crowd after talks failed again.
Imran said that, for the past 14 months after the May 2013 polls, he had tried all possible options but had been denied justice at every avenue. “All doors were shut on us, and they hid behind stay orders,” he said.
Imran rejects deputy PM offer
The PTI claimed the government was willing to accept all of the PTI’s six stated demands except the prime minister’s resignation.
“I set out on the streets (for justice) in May and today I have come to this point. On pressure from the people, the government is ready to accept all demands but is not willing to accept Nawaz’s resignation. If I could get justice under Nawaz, I would accept. But the prime minister is himself involved in rigging. How can I expect to get justice,” he said.
Imran claimed the government was trying to bribe him by offering him the position of deputy prime minister, but he did not accept.
“They even tried to bribe me by offering me the position of deputy prime minister. They are willing to go to any level to clear the crowd of supporters here,” he said.
Imran’s statement backed earlier reports from sources that the government was willing to give him the post of deputy premier for a span of three months to supervise the probe into election rigging allegations.
“I did not accept. We have all the evidence (of election rigging). I’m telling the nation: if we back down now, there can never be an independent inquiry under Nawaz Sharif,” Imran told protestors.
No word from government
Meanwhile, there was no word from the government following the end of talks with the PTI.
The government has previously said it is ready to open a judicial investigation into the rigging allegations and accept all demands except the resignation of the prime minister.
Imran had termed Wednesday as the “final round of talks” and the last chance for the government to reach a solution.
If the deadlock persists even after Wednesday, the PTI chief had said that he would announce his “next step” accordingly. He has warned of reprisals if any action is taken against the demonstrators.