Govt warns opposition against breaching agreement with Islamabad administration
Defence Minister Pervez Khattak, heading the government team tasked with negotiating with the opposition parties over the ongoing Islamabad sit-in, has warned the opposition against breaching the agreement under which the ongoing protest was allowed.
Addressing a press conference in Islamabad on Saturday alongside other members of the committee, he said that action will be taken against the protesters if the agreement was violated.
Khattak said that the government was open to talks with the opposition but re-election or the resignation of Prime Minister Imran Khan is out of the question.
“We have told them that there will be no discussion about the resignation of the prime minister; don’t even think about it,” he said.
The PTI leader reminded the opposition’s Rehbar Committee that it had agreed to stage their sit-in at H-9, Peshawar Mor in Islamabad.
“We feel saddened over yesterday’s speeches,” he said, adding that on one hand the opposition parties were signing agreements and on the other, they were talking about invading government properties.
“We are in touch with all political parties, including the Jamiat Ulema-i-Islam-Fazl (JUI-F),” he said, adding that the committee hoped the protesting parties will keep their word, “otherwise administrative action will be taken”.
“If they go beyond [the agreement] then it would be a violation of their own agreed accord. In that case no one should complain about us,” he said.
Khattak warned that the protesting parties would be responsible for the consequences if they fail to abide by the agreement.
He also called out the opposition for criticising “institutions”.
Commenting over a statement of PML-N President Shahbaz Sharif about the establishment, he said that for the first time in the history of Pakistan, the institution was “neutral” because of which the PML-N faced a defeat in the election.
“We pay tribute to the institutions for playing a neutral role,” he said.
Talking about the demands of the protesters, he said that the opposition parties have no issues or demands of substance. He alleged that they are pursuing a single demand of the prime minister’s resignation.
He said that it can’t be a fashion that the prime minister is sent packing after 30 to 40 thousand people take to the streets and demand the premier’s resignation.
“Democracy can’t survive in the country in this way,” he said.
“Our doors are open … we are ready for talks but if we are forced [then the opposition should realise that] Prime Minister Imran, I or ministers alone are not the government. Our government is all institutions and they have signed an agreement with the institutions,” he said, adding that the government committee had just proposed the agreement; the opposition had approved it and the administration and the protesting parties had signed it.
He reiterated his warning that the institutions will “take action” if the opposition parties violate the accord. In such a scenario, he added, the government will not be able to intervene.
Role of the army
Responding to a question about the Pakistan Army’s support to the government, he said that the Inter-Services Public Relations (ISPR) had already announced yesterday that the army supports Constitutional governments.
“The army is not a separate thing, why do you take it as a separate thing. The army is a part of the government. Administration, army, bureaucracy and parliament, they all work as a team, don’t treat them separately,” he said.
PTI stalwart Asad Umar added that the most sensitive issue for the army could be the foreign policy.
“They [PML-N leaders] had invited Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi to their home in a private party but the army didn’t stop them,” he said.
Addressing Shahbaz, he asked: “Did the army stop you from establishing schools or hospitals and reforming the police or judiciary?”
Federal minister Shafqat Mahmood alleged that the JUI-F’s agitation has served Indian interests. It shifted the focus of attention from India-occupied Kashmir to Islamabad, he said.
Khattak while responding to a question said that the demand for the premier’s resignation has already been rejected, so the opposition has nothing substantial to discuss with them. He challenged the opposition that he could single-handedly gather more people than the nine opposition parties have gathered in Islamabad.
Referring to the reported statement about forcefully taking resignation from the prime minister, he announced that the PTI core committee has decided to approach the courts against the JUI-F chief for “instigating” the public through his speech.