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Sanaullah says ‘serious talks’ only with PM Shehbaz

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“Serious negotiation” can only be held with Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif, Interior Minister Rana Sanaullah said Friday.

His statement came as the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) seeks to negotiate with “those in power” in the aftermath of May 9.

“If you seriously want to negotiate, then the negotiations will be held only with Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif,” the interior minister said in a tweet.

PTI Chairman Imran Khan, who remained adamant about not holding talks with incumbent leaders whom he called “thieves”, has now changed his stance and is willing to negotiate with the government.

For this, he had constituted a seven-member committee — comprising PTI Vice Chairman Shah Mahmood Qureshi, former defence 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.

Defence Minister Khawaja Asif had recently said that Khan, while constituting a negotiation team, should form an “alternate” committee as people keep leaving his party.

And this is what happened when a day earlier when Khattak announced relinquishing charge as PTI’s Khyber Pakhtunkhwa president.

The government’s top ministers have ruled out holding talks with the PTI chief, however, Sanaullah has previously hinted as well that there might be some room for negotiations.

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

The interior minister said regretted that Khan forms committees for holding negotiations but refuses to sit down with political opponents himself.

But in the same interview, the minister mentioned that from the government’s perspective, now might not be the right time to begin talks with PTI as it may hurt the sentiments of martyrs’ families due to the May 9 incidents.

As many as 100 PTI leaders — from all four provinces — have left and more are expected to follow suit, with thousands of workers behind bars for their alleged involvement in the vandalism.

Khan’s party has been feeling the heat of the state’s might after his party workers burnt and smashed military installations, including the General Headquarters in Rawalpindi, after his arrest on May 9 — a day the army dubbed as “Black Day”.

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