Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) Chairman Imran Khan’s change of mind to attend the All Parties Conference (APC) after a lot of flip-flop reflects his positive, constructive approach towards the serious bid by the present government to check terrorism and extremism that is plaguing Pakistan for over a decade.
This will be the first grand assembly of all parliamentary parties chaired by Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif that the PTI chief will grace.Imran Khan has been aggressively spurning all offers to be part of consultations, presided over by Nawaz Sharif, for his own political reasons, the main being his belief that the present regime lacks capacity and sincerity to wrestle with burning national issues.
On different occasions, the prime minister has offered olive branches to the PTI chief with a view to have a smooth, working relationship with him, but he has not been impressed and has preferred to persist with his hard-line against the government.
Before Imran Khan readily accepted the instant offer without expressing any reservations to join Monday’s APC at the Prime Minister’s House, he declined to be part of a multiparty conference of political stakeholders of Karachi, which was hosted by the Sindh chapter of the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N), during the prime minister’s recent visit to Karachi. Coming on its heels was the PTI chairman’s snub to Nawaz Sharif’s invitation to attend the farewell lunch in honour of the outgoing President, Asif Ali Zardari.
The prime minister had even invited leading politicians like PML-Q President Chaudhry Shujaat Hussain he detests to the core. The PML-Q chief responded to it with the same spirit and sentiments which resulted in softening their tension to some extent. However, Imran Khan has a different style.
A few weeks back, his refusal to join the APC was termed a clear escape from the high-profile consultations and formulation of a much-needed consensus policy on taking grave national security challenges head-on with one voice.
The prime minister did not mind Imran Khan’s negative response and said he was not against an exclusive meeting where the PTI chief should be briefed by him and Chief of Army Staff (COAS) General Ashfaque Parvez Kayani on national security issues. The PTI chief stated that he did not want to attend any conference where other politicians will be present, and desired a preferential treatment.
The sequence of events how Imran Khan and his party reached this day makes an interesting reading. Before Nawaz Sharif was elected as the prime minister, the PTI chief repeatedly stressed that all parliamentary players should join their heads to devise the national security policy in order to tackle the menace of terrorism.
Just a few days after Nawaz Sharif assumed the top office, Imran Khan started hammering the point with force that the conference should be immediately called and criticized the government for not acting with the pace he wanted.
At one point, he came out with the proposal that Kayani should also attend such a grand meeting. Reacting to it, Interior Minister Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan quickly affirmed that the COAS would also be invited. The objective behind this prompt response was not to give the PTI chief any chance to shun his participation in the conference or take political mileage.
On July 5, exactly one month after Nawaz Sharif was elected as prime minister, PTI Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KP) Chief Minister Pervez Khattak wrote a letter to the premier, urging him to convene the APC to devise the joint national counterterrorism policy.
Terrorism is a mega national issue on account of which the KP is affected, he said adding that the all political parties should sit together and chalk out comprehensive national policy against terrorism.
The chief minister also took credit that it was because of his party’s proposal that the federal government has decided to call the national security conference.
Twenty-one days later on July 26, Khattak had a somersault, which was contained in another letter to the prime minister. In it, he proposed that instead of holding an APC on terrorism, the federal government should organize an open discussion with the military top brass on the issue in a limited environment.
“APCs had been held in the past but had never been result-oriented and fruitful. So, open discussion would be more beneficial and in the national interest. The prime minister should chair a meeting that could be attended by the army chief, chiefs of the Inter-Services Intelligence and Military Intelligence, interior minister, KP governor, four chief ministers and other relevant civil and military officials,” his second letter said.
On July 28, Imran Khan categorically stated that he would not participate in the proposed APC and said no moot could be effective unless the truth was unveiled to the nation.“I just want to know why dialogue was not held to address this issue.
All details of any agreement with the US over drone or other issues should be made public. What had been the hurdles to holding the dialogue? I want to know everything in Pakistan’s interest and in closed-door discussions as to what is the major reason behind not addressing the issue of terrorism. The PTI might prove helpful to the stakeholders in solving the problem.”