Dialogue and threats can’t work together, Rana tells Imran

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Rana Sanaullah

The 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 Saad 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 — People’s Party, AN and everyone else decide unanimously — it will be their own agenda.”

Rafique further said: “Besides us, our allies have extreme reserva tions about talking to them and woyld 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.”

“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”.

Meanwhile, the interior minister warned Imran Khan against offering talks topped with threats and asked him to revisit his behaviour.

“He [Khan] will not get anything due to his threatening behaviour,” Sanaullah said

Earlier in the day, Sanaullah while talking to the media had said that in politics, parties had to work together because no progress could be made without talks and negotiations.

He, however, said that the ruling coalition had no backdoor links with Chief Minister Punjab Pervaiz Elahi and in the event of any talks with the Pakistan Muslime League-Q leader.

Moving on, Saad Rafique said it was Imran Khan, who mocked Shehbaz Sharif’s charter of the economy and subjected him to NRO (National Reconciliation Ordinance) taunts, despite the fact that PML-N had been a part of the legislative process when they were in opposition.

He (Khan) was the first prime minister who used to skip seats to come to the Parliament so as not to meet the opposition, the railway minister said.

“Imran Khan’s constitutional term ended in a constitutional and democratic way.”

Rana Sanaullah said that Pakistan Muslim League-Q leader Chaudhry Moonis Elahi’s statement regarding former army chief General (retd) Qamar Javed Bajwa’s advice has raised doubt over the army’s narrative of being “apolitical” and that an explanation should be given.

The interior minister’s remarks came a day after Moonis’ revelation that (retd) Gen Bajwa had advised PML-Q to back Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf when the no-confidence motion was moved against former prime minister Imran Khan.

“Gen Bajwa has retired after completing his full term. His benefits and losses don’t matter,” Sanaullah said while speaking to the media this morning in Lahore.

He said that the former army chief, on the institution’s behalf, maintained a narrative before the nation that it has no links with politics.

“Now, Moonis Elahi’s statement has cast doubt over the institution’s narrative so it should be clarified,” Sanaullah said.

The minister further stated that the government and the nation has trust that the commitment the military leadership and institution have made to the nation is “true” and “respectable”.

He said that the institution will perform its national duty in the country’s service under the same commitment so that politics progresses and matters advance in the country’s favour.