PML-N tells Imran talks don't come with strings attached

Published December 3, 2022
PML-N leaders Khawaja Saad Rafique, Ata Tarar and Rana Sanaullah address a press conference in Lahore on Dec 3. — PID
PML-N leaders Khawaja Saad Rafique, Ata Tarar and Rana Sanaullah address a press conference in Lahore on Dec 3. — PID

PML-N leaders Rana Sanaullah and Khawaja Saad Rafique said on Saturday that "talks don't come with conditions" as they responded to PTI Chairman Imran Khan's "one demand" for talks between the parties.

Addressing a press conference in Lahore, Railways Minister Rafique asked Imran to be "serious" if he sincerely wants negotiations and that "threats, accusations and abuses and talks cannot go hand in hand".

The statement comes a day after Imran invited the government to "sit down for talks" on the condition that it announces a date for early general elections, failing which he would dissolve the provincial assemblies of Punjab and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa.

"Talks never take place under conditions in the world," Rafique said. "If you put the demand forward first, on what basis will you talk?"

He added: "We also told their friends that this one-way traffic cannot continue. This is not just your agenda. If PDM decides — Peoples Party, ANP and everyone else decide unanimously — it will be their own agenda."

Rafique further said: "Besides us, our allies have extreme reservations about talking to them (PTI) and not give them any kind of face-saving."

He said that their viewpoint was that "assemblies are made for legislation and governance, not for dissolving".

Rafique said that dissolving the assemblies was akin to "wasting the time and resources of the country and the nation". "If he will talk seriously, we will respond seriously," he assured.

Sitting beside him, Interior Minister Sanaullah said: "He wanted to get a date for the election by threatening and hurling abuses at the establishment. He couldn't.

"If he wants to get a date from us through the same way after having talks, he cannot."

Rafique clarified that this was their party's viewpoint. "This is our opinion. The authority to make decisions is with the allies, which include the PDM, Pakistan's Peoples Party and ANP.

"Only they can make the decision but the way in which he has thrown the ball towards us and passed threats, this cannot be considered. First, correct your manner," the PML-N leader demanded.

He also told the media that "unofficial communications have taken place between us" in the past and the "interesting thing is that they also communicate by themselves and then also shy away from telling about them".

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