The Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) openly conceded what had been an open secret thus far; that President Arif Alvi is engaged in backdoor talks with the government, even as party chief Imran Khan ramps up pressure for a ‘decisive’ march on the capital.
PTI leader Fawad Chaudhry told Dawn that negotiations were being held with the government over the issue of elections. “President Sahib is holding the talks,” he said while replying to a question that at what level talks were being held between the two sides. It has already been reported in the media that President Alvi was making backchannel efforts to defuse the current political tension.
He added the PTI was ready to hold a formal dialogue with the government if it agreed to hold snap elections. “If they (government) are willing to hold early elections, we can sit with them,” Mr Chaudhry said.
In a comment on PML-N leader Ahsan Iqbal’s statement about polls, the PTI leader said: “I think ruling party leaders are not on the same page as Ahsan Iqbal is saying this [election in six to eight months] while Rana Sanaullah is saying something else.”
Fawad says ‘not sure’ if long march will take place in Oct
Replying to a question, the former information minister said he was not sure if PTI’s long march will be staged in the federal capital this October. His statement is in contrast to a claim made by his party chief Imran Khan wherein he said the march would not be postponed beyond October.
Imran seeks support for march
Earlier in the day, PTI Chairman Imran Khan met party lawmakers from Murree, Chakwal, Talagang, Haripur, Abbottabad, and Mansehra and issued them special instructions for the long march.
The lawmakers and ticketholders present in the meeting briefed Imran Khan on the preparations regarding the long march at the local level.
Mr Khan also met Senate Deputy Chairman Mirza Muhammad Afridi. He termed the arrest of PTI Senator Azam Swati and alleged custodial torture “shameful” and said it was beyond comprehension as to why production orders for Senator Swati were not being issued.
“The shameful arrest of a 74-year-old member of the upper house and his custodial torture is sheer violation of the constitution and the law,” he said while talking to Mr Afridi who called on him.
Imran Khan expressed his shock over the indifference of other political parties in the Senate and said that the “imported government” consisting of criminals was attacking the sanctity of the Constitution and parliament.
Mr Khan urged the deputy chairman to take steps to restore the sanctity of the house. “Instead of being a silent spectator, the [upper] house should order an immediate comprehensive investigation into the incident and identify those responsible,” he added.
In a separate meeting with PTI’s social media officials, Imran Khan lashed out at the government for adopting a fascist approach to suppress the dissenting voices in media.
“Social media freed the media from the clutches of tyranny and fascism and further added to the political maturity and consciousness of the people. PTI’s long march is not for achieving the traditional political goals but for the real freedom of the nation,” he said during the meeting.
The meeting also discussed in length the PTI’s preparations for the long march. He said that the PTI’s social media cell would play a key role in the long march because it was inevitable that the workers convey the message of “real freedom to every individual”.