Govt, Opp stick to their stances on PM’s resignation

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–Khattak consults PM over government’s strategy for negotiations with joint opposition

–Fazl tells government’s negotiation team to bring premier’s resignation letter with them

–Nawaz, Bilawal assure Fazl of their parties’ participation in Azadi March

ISLAMABAD: Defence Minister Pervez Khattak on Thursday held consultations with Prime Minister Imran Khan over the government’s strategy for negotiations with the joint opposition while the latter once again reiterated its demand for the premier’s resignation.

In a telephonic conversation with the premier, Khattak discussed government’s strategy for negotiations with joint opposition’s Rahbar Committee pertaining to the upcoming Azadi March. The premier was appraised of the recent contacts between the government’s negotiation committee and the opposition regarding the planned sit-in.

The defence minister said that the first session of talks between the government and opposition will take place on Friday. PM Imran also advised Khattak over the matter.

Khattak also discussed other issues with the premier, including the government’s negotiations with the protesting doctors in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KP). PM Imran allowed the defence minister to form a committee to resolve the problems of the doctors.

JUI-F REITERATES PM’S RESIGNATION DEMAND:

Meanwhile, Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam-Fazl (JUI-F) chief Maulana Fazlur Rehman reiterated opposition’s demand for the resignation of PM Imran, saying the government’s committee should bring the premier’s resignation letter with them when they come for negotiations on Friday.

Addressing a press conference in Sukkur after meeting party members, Fazl denied that there was any unwillingness by the Rehbar Committee to meet with their government counterparts. He also said that after Friday’s meeting between the two sides, the opposition parties will hold consultations before responding to the government.

“However, what can be expected from a team headed by Pervez Khattak? His attitude and mannerisms are not conducive to holding talks,” he added.

He lashed out at the government for being “dual-faced” by offering to hold talks on one hand, while creating hurdles in the way of the opposition on the other. “Shops, petrol pumps, etc., are all being made to shut down. They can do what they like. We will enter Islamabad, come what may,” he added.

He urged the opposition to “not lose their nerve” and to present a strong front against the government as “the entire nation’s hopes lie with us and we must support them”.

The JUI-F chief said there was no plan of changing the schedule of the Azadi March and the only way any amendments can be made is if the Rahbar Committee takes a joint decision.

“However, this is not likely to happen,” he said, adding that the nation will fully endorse the march as “all parties are in agreement with us over the fact that this government that has come to power through rigging cannot be allowed to continue”.

Fazl also said that the opposition will hold special programmes throughout the country, including a large gathering in Karachi, to observe Black Day on October 27 in order to express solidarity with Kashmiris. “The government has let down Kashmiris. Evil doers themselves are raising a hue and cry over evil,” he added.

Speaking about the declining health of former premier Nawaz Sharif, Fazl said that “to give someone the hardship of imprisonment when their health is failing them is the sign of a tyrannical leadership”.

PML-N, PPP ASSURE FAZL OF PARTICIPATION IN AZADI MARCH:

Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) supreme leader Nawaz Sharif and Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) Chairman Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari have assured Fazl of their parties’ participation in the Azadi March.

According to a statement issued on Thursday, the JUI-F chief held telephonic conversations with both leaders who expressed their support for the anti-government protests.

Fazl contacted Nawaz through PML-N President Shehbaz Sharif to inquire after his health and thanked him of his support when he said that his party would fully participate in the anti-government march.

The JUI-F chief then contacted the PPP chief, who asked him where he should join the march. Fazl then suggested that Bilawal join the march from Sukkur.

It is worth mentioning here that Fazl has threatened the government with a long march which will begin on October 27. The JUI-F chief has demanded PM Imran’s resignation and has said that anything less will not be acceptable.

The march will kick off on October 27 and will reach Islamabad on October 31. The opposition’s Rahbar Committee will decide whether a protest sit-in will take place in Islamabad or not.

Fazl blames the premier for the country’s economic woes and other troubles. The prime minister, on the other hand, in a recent meeting with journalists and analysts, said that Fazl’s march has a ‘special agenda’ and he will not cave into their pressure.

The government has also warned the opposition that anyone who tries to take the law into their hands will be dealt with strictly.