Talks with Imran Khan’s party could happen only if it ‘earnestly apologises’, forgoes ‘politics of anarchy’: Pak Army General

Islamabad, May 7 (PTI) A top Pakistan Army general on Tuesday said that any dialogue with jailed former prime minister Imran Khan’s Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) party could happen only if it “earnestly apologises” in front of the nation, promises to adopt “constructive” politics and forgoes “politics of anarchy”.

Maj-Gen Ahmed Sharif, the Director General of the Inter-Services Public Relations (ISPR) – the media wing of the Pakistan military – made the remarks in a press conference in Rawalpindi just two days before the first anniversary of May 9 violence.

On May 9 last year, violent protests erupted after the arrest of Khan by paramilitary Rangers from the premises of the Islamabad High Court. His party workers vandalised a dozen military installations, including the Jinnah House (Lahore Corps Commander house), Mianwali airbase and the ISI building in Faisalabad. The Army headquarters (GHQ) in Rawalpindi was also attacked by the mob for the first time.

Maj Gen Sharif rejected the rumours about talks with Khan’s party, saying that no talks would be held with a group that “attacks the army and malign it”.

Any dialogue with Khan’s party could happen only if it “earnestly apologises in front of the nation, promises to adopt constructive politics and forgoes politics of anarchy,” the army spokesman said.

When asked about May 9, he said: “Firstly, May 9 is not just the Pakistan Army’s case but the entire country’s.

“If, in any country, an attack is launched on its army, symbols of its martyrs are insulted, its founder’s house is set on fire, hatred is created between its army and public, and if the people behind it are not brought to justice, then there is a question mark on that country’s justice system.

“We believe that if we have to maintain trust in the justice system of Pakistan, then May 9 perpetrators — both the perpetrators and those commanding them — must be sentenced according to the Constitution and the law.”

Hours later, Khan’s party hit back at the army spokesman, saying he showed “a mind full of contradictions because at the end of it all I could not understand anything”.

“We challenge them on all the things he said to bring evidence for it before the nation and the easiest way for that … is to institute an independent transparent judicial inquiry,” PTI spokesperson Raoof Hasan told the media in Islamabad.

Hasan said that the army spokesman wanted a commission to start the probe from 2014 sit-in by the PTI but it should also be tasked to the cipher case, the PTI government’s ouster, the attempted assassination on Imran Khan, audio leaks and the alleged rigging in the February 8 elections.

The PTI spokesman said that he could not understand “why there is such frustration and what are the factors that propel them again and again to give such statements, which have no rationale or logic?”

Hasan claimed that multiple attempts were made to target PTI and the passage of time, there was an increase in the “intensity and venom” against the party.

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