• Thursday, July 25, 2024

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Being Sharif: Pakistan PM extends olive branch to Imran Khan

Khan, a former PM and the leader of Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) party, has been in jail since August last year.

Pakistan prime minister Shehbaz Sharif. (Photo by ASIF HASSAN/AFP via Getty Images)

By: Shajil Kumar

PAKISTANI Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif on Wednesday offered to hold talks with political rival Imran Khan if he was facing “troubles” in jail.

The Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) party founder has been in jail since August last year.

The 71-year-old cricketer-turned-politician has been slapped with nearly 200 cases since his ouster from power in April 2022.

“If their [PTI] founder is facing troubles [in jail], then I reiterate: come, let’s sit down and talk,” Sharif said while addressing the National Assembly.

“Let us sit together to take the country ahead. Let us talk for the betterment of the country. There is no other way forward,” he said.

The Nawaz Sharif-led Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) and PTI have been at loggerheads for years, particularly after the February 8 elections, which Khan’s party claims it had won.

Commenting on the 2018 elections won by Khan’s PTI, Sharif said: “We joined Parliament despite the [rigged] polls. The sort of slogans that were raised during my first speech will always be remembered as a dark chapter in the history books.”

Sharif, 72, also recounted the victimisation he faced during Khan’s tenure and how he was in jail when his mother passed away.

He said that despite being a cancer survivor, he used to be taken to courts in an ordinary prison van just to exacerbate the condition, but he never complained.

In response, the leader of the opposition in the National Assembly, Omar Ayub, reiterated that the PTI would talk with the government only when Khan and other incarcerated leaders and workers are released from jail.

“This should be in your minds: you torture our workers, you’ve kept our women workers in prison vans at 45°C. My prime minister Imran Khan was kept in a death cell, there’s an oven-like environment over there,” he said, amidst sloganeering from the treasury benches. (PTI)

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