Defence Minister Khawaja Asif has rejected PTI Chairman Barrister Gohar Khan’s claims that former premier Imran Khan was being pressured to accept a ‘deal’.

In an interview published on Wednesday on Independent Urdu, Asif said, “There is no truth in claims of pressuring Imran Khan to come to the negotiating table.

Speaking to reporters outside the Parliament House on Tuesday, Gohar had first replied in the negative when asked if he had said there was “pressure being exerted for a deal” with Imran: “No, I have not given any such statements”.

“What I have said is that if there is any dialogue or communication, we will not hide it from you all […] Khan sahib himself said that there has been no contact with him [to strike a deal],” he added.

However, Gohar also said: “Another thing we (PTI) are saying is that the way Khan sahib is being kept in jail, the way [Bushra] Bibi has been [jailed], these are all [forms of] pressure that Khan sahib somehow agrees to a deal.

“And these are all pressures that Khan sahib somehow breaks,” the PTI MNA claimed.

Rejecting Gohar’s statements, Asif told Independent Urdu that the PTI was making such statements only to stay relevant.

He added that “reputable people from the PTI had given statements that there was no deal taking place nor was there any contact” for it.

“Now, if such controversial statements would come from the PTI itself, what can we say about it?” the report quoted the PML-N leader as saying.

When asked about relations between the PTI-led Khyber Pakhtunkhwa government and the Centre, Asif said that the federal government should not be the one to take the “initiative” of ruining the relations.

He highlighted that the March meeting between Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif and KP Chief Minister Ali Amin Gandapur, during which he was present, took place in a “very pleasant atmosphere”.

“We would like the province to maintain the same spirit,” Asif told Independent Urdu, adding that the relations “should not deteriorate from our side”.

He further said, “If KP gives an indication of spoiling relations, we will think about what we have to do, but there should be no initiative from our side.”

Regarding the potential implementation of a governor rule there, the defence minister said, “Political forces should avoid such a situation. About this, I will not discuss what the options will be.”

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