ISLAMABAD: Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif on Tuesday rejected outright Imran Khan’s offer to hold talks in the backdrop of May 9 riots and violent protests staged by the PTI.

Rejecting the option of negotiations with Mr Khan’s party, the PM said those who were involved in destroying public and private property on May 9 should be held accountable for their anti-state actions.

“Dialogue is a key to evolving democracy but it cannot be held with ‘anarchists and arsonists’ in the garb of politicians,” the premier said in a tweet.

His statement comes just days after Mr Khan appealed to the powers that be for immediate talks with state officials.

In the past, he had called the incumbent rulers “thieves” and categorically announced that he would never sit with them for dialogue.

Minister says Imran may be tried by military court for ‘masterminding’ May 9 riots

The prime minister, in his tweet, admitted that dialogue was deeply embedded in the political process, which helps democracy mature and evolve. He said many political and constitutional breakthroughs occurred when political leaders sat across the table to craft a consensus.

“However, there is a major difference here, the anarchists and arsonists who wear the garb of politicians and attack the symbols of the state do not qualify for a dialogue,” he added.

PM Shehbaz was of the opinion that such people should rather be held to account for their militant actions, terming it a prevalent practice even in developed democracies.

Military court trial for Imran?

Separately, in an appearance on DawnNews Interior Minister Rana Sanaullah accused Mr Khan of personally planning the attacks on military installations before his arrest on May 9, adding that there was evidence to prove this as well.

When asked if Imran would be tried in the military court, Mr Sanaullah said: “Absolutely, why shouldn’t he? The programme that he made to target the military installations and then had it executed, in my understanding absolutely is a case of a military court.”

Dawn.com reported that the interior minister accused the PTI chief of personally orchestrating the riots.

“[The evidence] is documented, it is in tweets and his messages,” he added.

When asked how Mr Khan was able to communicate with his party leaders even from jail, the interior minister replied: “All this [planning] was decided before he went [to jail] that ‘who will do what and where. And when he is arrested, what would be the strategy and duties’. All of this was decided.”

Published in Dawn, May 31st, 2023

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