PM agrees to accept demands, but rules out his resignation - GulfToday

PM agrees to accept demands, but rules out his resignation


Imran Khan. File

Tariq Butt

Prime Minister Imran Khan on Tuesday gave a go-ahead to his negotiating team to accept the demands, except his resignation, of the Azadi March protesters that are in accordance with the Constitution.

The team headed by Defence Minister Pevez Khattak met the prime minister before holding another round of talks with the representatives of the Rehbar Committee of the opposition parties.

Meanwhile, the fresh negotiations ended in a deadlock with both sides saying that they are sticking to their respective stand.

They will hold another round of talks but gave no time for that. Khattak said the government was trying to find a middle ground with the opposition to break the ongoing deadlock.

The convener of the Rehbar Committee Akram Durrani said the opposition stood by its demand of Imran Khan’s resignation and fresh general elections. “We have informed the government about our demands once again.”

Khattak said the talks between the two sides were held in a “good atmosphere.”

“Now we will talk to our respective leaderships,” he said. During their joint presser, they did not answer too many questions.

In his meeting with Khattak, the premier expressed gratitude to Pakistan Muslim League-Q leaders Chaudhry Pervez Elahi and Chaudhry Shujaat Hussain for their role in talks with the opposition.

The Azadi March led by Maulana Fazlur Rehman started on Oct.27 from Karachi and entered  Islamabad on Oct.31. In a bid to defuse political tension, the PML-Q leaders also called on Fazlur Rehman.

Meanwhile, Pakistan army said that it stood ready to assist “national institutions” in accordance with the Constitution.

Chief of the Army Staff Gen Qamar Bajwa, while chairing a corps commanders meeting at the General Headquarters, said Pakistan army as organ of the state will continue to support national institutions as and when asked as per Constitution.

The meeting, which is a monthly feature at the GHQ, is attended by the army’s top brass, including corps commanders, principal staff officers at the headquarters, and the chiefs of military’s intelligence services.

The Inter-Services Public Relations (ISPR), which released quotes from the army chief’s remarks at the conference, did not say in which context they were made.

The comments, however, came in the backdrop of Jamiat Ulema-i-Islam-Fazl’s (JUI-F) ongoing sit-in in Islamabad and demand for resignation of Imran and holding of fresh elections in the country.

The government, under Article 245 of the Constitution, can call the armed forces to its aid in emergency situations.

Rehman last Friday gave a two-day deadline for the prime minister to resign and had threatened to march to D-Chowk, in front of Parliament building, but was later forced to go soft on that after failing to get backing of key opposition parties — Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) and Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP).

Bajwa, in his comments at the conference, said that security and stability in the country had been achieved through a national approach and sacrifices rendered in the fight against terrorism. “We shall not let it reverse to suit any vested agenda at any cost,” the army chief stressed while rejecting moves that could destabilise the country.

The army chief further underscored the need for unity among various organs of the state. “While Pakistan Armed Forces with support of national institutions and the nation are fully prepared and committed to thwart all threats including on Eastern Border/LoC, continued cohesion of all national stakeholders on key national issues is essential to defeat inimical forces,” he asserted.

These were the first formal remarks from the army chief since the agitation, named Azadi March by its organisers, kicked off from Karachi on Oct.27.

The PPP and PML-N are of view that they would continue to support the peaceful march and rallies but would not support any protest that endangered the democratic system.

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