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Imran calls off talks with govt

Islamabad, Aug. 21: Pakistan cricketer-turned-Opposition leader Imran Khan today called off talks with the Nawaz Sharif government, a day after the first round of negotiations.

“The talks with the government are over. We want the resignation of Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif,” Khan, who heads the Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf, told supporters in front of Parliament today. He, however, did not cite any reason for calling off the talks.

Khan’s deputy, Shah Mehmood Qureshi, told reporters in Islamabad that the talks had been suspended in protest against the continued crackdowns against his party workers and the attack on his house yesterday in Multan by activists of Sharif’s party.

“The atmosphere for talks with the government is not conducive at all,” he said, adding that if the government reviewed its attitude, “they will also find us positive”.

The protests by Khan and Canada-based populist cleric Tahir-ul-Qadri are aimed at pressing Prime Minister Sharif to step down over corruption allegations and calling fresh elections.

Qadri’s Pakistan Awami Tehreek too refused to talk to the government today, a PTI report said.

Qadri and Khan, who led thousands of protesters in Islamabad on August 15, have alleged that the 2013 parliamentary elections, which brought Sharif’s Pakistan Muslim League (N) to power, were massively rigged.

Qadri has also demanded that murder cases be registered against Sharif and his younger brother and Punjab chief minister Shahbaz Sharif.

The cleric has alleged that Prime Minister Sharif and his brother killed at least 10 workers of his party during a clash with police in Lahore on June 17.

On Tuesday, Khan and Qadri, along with tens of thousands of supporters, had marched to the high-security Red Zone where government buildings and foreign embassies are located and organised a sit-in in front of Parliament.

Khan and Qadri agreed to hold talks with the government after a nudge from the army to resolve issues through a peaceful dialogue.

Pakistan’s allies and major trade partners, including the United States, Britain and the European Union, have also called for a political solution to the impasse.

Pakistan’s national legislature today passed a unanimous resolution rejecting as “unconstitutional” the demands by Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf and Pakistan Awami Tehreek seeking Sharif’s resignation.

 
 
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