PTI TO ATTEND MULTI-PARTY CONFAB FOR ‘COUNTRY’S SAKE’

RAWALPINDI:

PTI’s incarcerated and embittered founder Imran Khan relented on Friday in his political battle against the ruling coalition, saying that his party will attend an all-party conference (APC) the government plans to convene to assuage concerns vis-à-vis ‘Azm-e-Istehkam Vision’, which is aimed at dismantling the nexus of terrorism and illegal spectrum in the country.
Speaking from Rawalpindi’s Adiala Jail, where he is serving a prison term, the beleaguered former prime minister said that his party’s members would attend the multi-party confab as “observers,” adding that he has made the decision in “Pakistan’s best interests.”
“Our party will participate in the APC and will listen to the government’s position. Law and order is a national issue. We will participate in the APC for the sake of the country,” Khan was quoted as saying in a statement released by the PTI on the popular micro-blogging site X, formerly Twitter. He, however, voiced fears that ‘Azm-e-Istehkam’ could exacerbate instability in the country.
The jailed PTI founder expressed distrust in the chief justice of Pakistan and revealed plans for a hunger strike in his prison cell. “I will announce the final date for my hunger strike after consulting with my lawyers,” he said. “I will never give in to tyranny. I’m willing to die in jail, but I’ll fight as long as I live.”
Imran wants his hunger strike to make a news worldwide to highlight flagrant human rights abuses in Pakistan. “Only free and fair election is the panacea for all ills afflicting Pakistan,” he added.
He criticised the alleged favouritism in case hearings under Article 25 of the Constitution, questioning why CJP Qazi Faez Isa heads every bench hearing cases involving PTI or its founder. He said his lawyers have raised objections to Isa’s presence on these benches, suggesting a lack of justice.
He also recalled that a five-member bench – during his tenure as prime minister – led by former CJP Justice Gulzar had stated that Qazi Faez Isa should not hear matters involving Imran, then a premier.
Imran once again accused “colonels and majors of running the system within the jail,” mentioning that his legal team waited for three hours outside Adiala Jail but was not allowed to meet him. “Pakistan has transitioned from a hybrid system to an authoritative dictatorship.”
However, Imran asserted that this would not weaken his party, which is still a force to be reckoned with.
Addressing PTI leaders, he urged them not to air their dirty laundry in public, as it would throw them off course.
The PTI founder also lambasted the elite’s control over the country, stating that the current crisis can only be resolved by a party with public mandate. He condemned the increasing costs of running the President House while electricity and gas bills hit the public hard.
In response to a journalist’s question about the party leaders’ efforts to get him released from jail, he mentioned party leaders Omar Ayub, Shibli Faraz, and Ali Amin Gandapur’s strong speeches in the National Assembly and Senate.
He asserted that the time for negotiations had passed, specifically on February 8, and dismissed the idea of negotiating with Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif’s government, which he believes was hanging by a thread.
Finally, he commented on the failure to strengthen relations with Afghanistan, which he believes is crucial to winning the war against TTP.
He also questioned why the foreign minister has not engaged with Afghanistan, emphasising that cooperation from Afghanistan was essential to secure the 2,500-kilometer border and achieve success in operations against Taliban forces.
Separately, Information Minister Attaullah Tarar mentioned that consultations with the government’s allies were ongoing regarding the APC.
He confirmed that one round of talks had been held and referred to Imran Khan’s statement, expressing hope that “he remains steadfast on it [since] this is the whole country’s matter so all political parties should be taken on board.”
Defence Minister Khawaja Asif also welcomed PTI’s decision to join the APC. Speaking to a private news channel, he noted that the government had previously extended invitations to PTI for talks, and this offer remained open.
Asif highlighted that PML-N President Nawaz Sharif had always kept the doors of negotiation open, showing political insight. He acknowledged that while previous efforts at dialogue were boycotted, PTI’s current willingness to engage was a positive development.
“The participation of every small and big political party in the APC convened on the issue of national security is among the priorities of the government,” Asif said, emphasising that addressing terrorism was a national issue that should transcend political differences.

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