Less than half a day after meeting each other, the government and Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) on Thursday suspended their committee-level talks and were back to exchanging barbs. While Imran Khan continued his tirade against Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif and others, the PTI negotiating team held a brief press conference to announce the suspension of talks.
However, the PTI leaders left the door open by saying that if their two reservations were addressed (later the party increased them to four), the dialogue could be resumed. However, the government did not react nervously to the PTI’s announcement of suspension. Addressing the media outside the parliament house, Railways Minister Khawaja Saad Rafique said that Khan was simply looking for excuses and that his crowds on D-Chowk were thinning out. The government, the minister claimed, had from the first day shown flexibility, be it its willingness to talk or its decision to not use force but the other side kept changing its goal posts.
‘Contained’: Imran khan , Qadri protest to the same tune “Negotiations are part of the political process, but, if somebody believes he can dictate to the government he is absolutely mistaken,” he added while referring to Dr Tahirul Qadri’s demand of dissolution of the assemblies and Khan’s call for resignation. “The government is in favour of talks, but, nobody should view this as our weakness.” However, the minister no longer made any statements about being willing to grovel at the feet of the protesting party or standing upside down to convince them to carry out talks.
Indeed, there was a change in the body language of the federal ministers; they looked more relaxed and confident on Thursday. Apart from Mr Rafique, Defence Minister Khawaja Asif gave an exclusive interview to a television channel where he clarified that the army’s involvement in politics was a thing of the past and promised that “the government has no plans to crack down on the participants of the twin-marches.” He too looked relatively relaxed. -dawn