Negotiations only after announcement of elections: Fawad Chaudhry

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ISLAMABAD: PTI Party members called Defence Minister Khawaja Asif’s apparent willingness to talk to the PTI a positive development, but made it clear that any negotiations will start only after the announcement of an early schedule for general elections.

The PTI Core Committee, chaired by former prime minister and party chairman Imran Khan, met at his Banigala residence and was attended by the party leadership as well as Awami Muslim League chief Sheikh Rashid.

After the meeting, PTI Senior Vice President Fawad Chaudhry held a news conference, saying the party would not backtrack from its ongoing struggle for “real independence” and the government was left with no option but to announce a date for fresh polls, otherwise the PTI would give a final countrywide protest call within two weeks.

He said all of the party’s organisations had been instructed to prepare for the anti-inflation protest demonstrations. He added that Mr Khan would give a befitting reply to those who were spreading religious hatred against him.

“During the meeting, the participants expressed full confidence in the party chairman’s leadership. The core committee voiced serious concern over the country’s economic meltdown, rising street crimes and the unstable political situation,” he said.

Mr Chaudhry said that Mr Khan demanded snap polls, which he believed were the only solution to pull the country out of the prevailing crises. The PTI would not budge an inch from its stated position and continue to fight until the dream of making Pakistan an independent state in the real sense materialised, he added.

However, he said, the PTI was open for talks provided the government announced early elections. He further said Defence Minister Khawaja Asif had reportedly expressed a desire to hold talks with the PTI, and called it a positive development.

The former minister also warned that if the government resisted and dragged the polls any further, former premier Khan would give a final protest call, which would either help establish “true and ideal democracy” in the country or turn the country into another North Korea or Myanmar for which only the government would be responsible.

Talking about the supposed anti-Imran Khan drive, Mr Chaudhry said the Punjab and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa governments of the PTI had been asked to take notice of the hate campaign and initiate appropriate legal action. He said the PTI would give an effective response to such a campaign and thanked the scholars who had condemned it.

About flood-relief efforts, he said the Punjab and KP governments had been directed to devise a plan to ensure speedy and transparent distribution of money among the flood victims.

Former interior minister Sheikh Rashid maintained the coalition government had “failed and collapsed”, and elections were the only solution to the country’s problems. He said the next month till Oct 15 was important - without elaborating what he meant.

He also went on to say that an interim government was inevitable, as there was no constitutional provision for a technocrat set-up, which would be tantamount to a martial law.

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