Interior Minister says ‘serious negotiations’ can only be held with PM Shehbaz

F.P. Report

ISLAMABAD: Interior Minister Rana Sanaullah stated on Friday that meaningful negotiations could only take place with Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif, as the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) seeks to engage in talks following the events of May 9.

“If you genuinely want to negotiate, the discussions will be exclusively conducted with Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif,” tweeted the interior minister.

PTI Chairman Imran Khan, who previously adamantly refused to negotiate with incumbent leaders whom he referred to as “thieves,” has now changed his position and is willing to engage in talks with the government.

To facilitate this, he formed a seven-member committee, consisting of PTI Vice Chairman Shah Mahmood Qureshi, former Defense Minister Pervez Khattak, former National Assembly Speaker Asad Qaiser, PTI Sindh President Haleem Adil Sheikh, and former ministers Murad Saeed, Hammad Azhar, and Aun Abbasi.

Defense Minister Khawaja Asif recently suggested that Khan should form an “alternative” committee while constituting the negotiation team, as people keep leaving his party.

This was evident when Khattak announced his resignation as PTI’s Khyber Pakhtunkhwa president a day earlier.

While the government’s top ministers have firmly rejected the idea of negotiating with the PTI chief, Sanaullah had previously hinted that there might be some room for discussions.

In an interview with Voice of America (VOA), Sanaullah assured that PM Shehbaz would respond “positively” if the PTI chief approached him for talks.

The interior minister expressed regret that Khan forms committees for negotiations but refuses to personally engage with political opponents.

However, in the same interview, Sanaullah also mentioned that, from the government’s perspective, it might not be the right time to commence talks with the PTI, as it could hurt the sentiments of the families of martyrs due to the incidents on May 9.

Since then, around 100 PTI leaders from all four provinces have left the party, and more are expected to follow suit, with thousands of workers in custody for their alleged involvement in the vandalism.

Khan’s party has faced the full force of the state after his party workers burned and vandalized military installations, including the General Headquarters in Rawalpindi, following his arrest on May 9—a day the army labeled as the “Black Day.”