Imran’s provocation can again stall talks, warns govt

Updated December 16, 2014


Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif’s spokesman Mussadiq Malik addressing a press conference.— INP/file
Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif’s spokesman Mussadiq Malik addressing a press conference.— INP/file

ISLAMABAD: Prime minister’s spokesman Mussadiq Malik said on Monday that the government sincerely wanted to form a judicial commission on Imran Khan’s demand, but warned that any provocation from the PTI could again hamper the dialogue process.

Talking to a TV channel soon after Imran Khan’s speech in Lahore, Mr Malik said the two sides had already discussed the issue of formation of the commission to investigate the alleged rigging in last year’s general elections, and another round of talks would be held on Tuesday.

He advised the PTI chairman to avoid the politics of provocation because it could affect the dialogue process which resumed a couple of days ago. He said the government was determined to resolve the four-month long political confrontation with the PTI through talks.

Earlier at a news conference, Information Minister Pervez Rashid held Imran Khan responsible for the death of four people during the PTI protests in Lahore. “Today four people lost their lives because of misadventure of Imran Khan.”

Govt determined to resolve political confrontation with PTI through talks

He accused the PTI of repeating the same ‘uncivilised’ behaviour in Lahore which it had demonstrated during its protest in Karachi on Friday. “In Lahore, we gave the PTI a free hand, rather it was facilitated by Punjab government, even then its workers turned unruly and did not give way to ambulances which caused the death of four people,” he regretted.

Mr Rashid said PTI workers had also attacked journalists and used force to shut shops down, despite Imran Khan’s repeated assurance that his workers would not misbehave with journalists and would not force traders to close their shops.

“The PTI had given an assurance to the Lahore administration that its workers will give way to ambulances and vehicles of media houses. But they did not let ambulances reach hospitals and four people died because they could not get timely medical treatment,” Mr Rashid alleged.

“Pakistan and India had not attacked each other’s ambulances even during wars,” he added.

Specifically mentioning an incident in which PTI activists misbehaved with a woman journalist, Mr Rashid said the ‘tigers’ of Imran Khan were actually ‘wolfs’. “Attacks on media persons are attacks on freedom of expression. Is this a ‘new Pakistan’ we are dreaming of,” he said.

In reply to a question, he said violent incidents in Lahore had compelled the government to consider taking “stern action” against the PTI and its chief Imran Khan who had provoked his workers against the state, its institutions and people.

Mr Rashid claimed that the Punjab government had not come in the way of the PTI and said the people of Lahore came out of their houses on their own to oppose the demonstrators who were forcibly closing shops and blocking major roads.

“Monday’s match was between the PTI and the people of Lahore and Imran Khan lost his vote bank by shutting down the city,” he added.

Published in Dawn, December 16th, 2014