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Khan refuses to negotiate with govt; Qadri open to talks

PTI August 20, 2014 22:16 IST
Islamabad: The protest against the Nawaz Sharif regime took a new turn today with cleric Tahirul Qadri opening a dialogue with government and Imran Khan sticking to his ‘no-talks' position unless the Prime Minister resigns as the Supreme Court summoned both the leaders tomorrow for hearing a petition against the siege of Parliament.  

The apparent difference in the approach of the two leaders came after the powerful army counselled a peaceful resolution of the week-long crisis, even as Khan said he would abide by the verdict of the Supreme Court on the protest.  

The cricketer-turned-politician and Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) chief, who had threatened to storm Sharif's residence at 8 pm tonight, instead addressed his supporters conscious of the court hearing tomorrow which observers feel may provide him with a face-saver.

“We have decided to negotiate with you Nawaz Sharif, but listen carefully—the negotiation will start with the resignation of Prime Minister Sharif. How can a probe under Nawaz Sharif be transparent?” Khan said.  In the first sign of thaw between the government and the protesters, Sharif today sent a four-member team to negotiate a deal with Pakistan Awami Tehreek (PAT) leader Qadri.  

Qadri declined to give any guarantee about the success of the dialogue but maintained that he had never opposed talks.  The team sent to Qadri comprised of Minister for Frontier Region Qadri Baloch, Minister for Railway Saad Rafique, opposition leaders Ijazul Haq and Haidar Abbas Rizvi.  

The move came after the powerful army called for calm following the breach by protesters of the high-security Red Zone that houses important government buildings including the Parliament House, Prime Minister House, President House, the Supreme Court besides the embassies.  

“Situation requires patience, wisdom and sagacity from all stakeholders to resolve prevailing impasse through meaningful dialogue in larger national and public interest,” military spokesman Maj Gen Asim Saleem Bajwa tweeted.  PTI leader Shah Mehmood Qureshi said, “We have decided not to immediately enter negotiations with the government”.  

“The party decided that the foremost fundamental condition is that the Prime Minister step down, and that no dialogue can be initiated unless the resignation takes place,” he said.

Khan earlier said he would also abide by the Supreme Court's verdict on the issue of alleged rigging in last year's general elections.

Khan was quoted by Dawn News as saying that Sharif is “Pakistan's Hosni Mubarak” and alleged that he had killed innocent people in Lahore's Model Town, in an apparent reference to the killing of 14 Qadri supporters in June.

Khan also slammed PML-N workers for attacking Qureshi's home in Multan. He called for those involved in rigging last year's polls to be brought to the book.