ISLAMABAD: Defence Minister Pervez Khattak, who has been entrusted by the ruling Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) with the task of engaging the opposition parties ahead of their planned anti-government march, has said they are open for a dialogue, but warned that they will not allow anyone to create chaos in the country.
“If they [opposition parties] have any issue or agenda, they should bring it with them and we can talk,” Mr Khattak said during an informal chat with some reporters here on Thursday, minutes after a news conference of National Party (NP) chief Hasil Bizenjo in which he announced that his party would fully participate in the Oct 31 ‘Azadi March’ by the Jamiat Ulema-i-Islam (JUI-F).
“If their [opposition parties’] agenda is to create chaos through violence, then we will not let it happen,” Mr Khattak warned. He said the committee headed by him and formed by the PTI’s core committee for holding talks with the opposition parties would comprise five to six senior members of the (ruling) party and it would be constituted soon.
Mr Khattak, however, claimed that he had already established contacts with leaders of the opposition parties, including JUI-F chief Maulana Fazlur Rehman. He said he had sent a message to the Maulana, asking the latter to try to resolve the matter through talks as Pakistan was a democratic country.
“We have told Maulana Sahib that we are Pathans and we resolve our matters through Jirgas,” he said, adding that he would speed up contacts with the opposition parties from Friday (today).
The defence minister said he would also hold talks with other opposition parties, including the PPP, PML-N, Awami National Party and Pashtun Tahaffuz Movement, which had announced their support for ‘Azadi March’.
He said the government would make every effort to save the country from anarchy and expressed the hope that his efforts would bear fruits before Oct 27 — the day when the JUI-F would begin its march from Balochistan and other far-flung areas of the country.
Responding to a question, he termed the demand for Prime Minister Imran Khan’s resignation ‘ridiculous’.
Speaking at the news conference, NP president Hasil Bizenjo said they (opposition) would have to do “agitation and block roads” to send this government packing. He said Maulana Fazl should not end his protest simply after addressing a public meeting, apparently asking the JUI-F chief to go for an indefinite sit-in.
Published in Dawn, October 18th, 2019