The way out

Imran’s offers of talks should be taken seriously

Even though PTI chief Imran Khan is still sounding some of the themes that resound with his base, the implosion that has afflicted his party since May 9 seems to have brought him to the point where he wants talks to take place. He has gone so far as to name a seven-member negotiating team, consisting of people who wee still within the party, and if not arrested, underground while trying to avoid arrest. Of the three who had engaged in talks with the government earlier in the month, one, Fawad Chaudhy, ha already left the party over the May 9 incidents.

In rejecting this latest offer, PML(N) supremo Mian Nawaz Sharif referred to those incidents when he said that the party negotiated onlly with politicians, not terrorists. That might have been satisfying, and even patriotic, but it was hardly addressing the problem, which was that the country’s almost continuous political turmoil for the last year, ever since the no-confidence vote that saw Mr Khan ousted as Prime Minister, has blocked the sort of economic revival that would cause the repair to the economy that were needed after the years Mr Khan was PM. It is true that the world economic situation has been hostile, that a country so highly dependent on exports and foreign workers’ remittances has seen both collapse, But it can be argued that that makes political stability all the more essential, if the crisis is to be overcome.

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Mr Khan is trying something very innovative, negotiating from a position of weakness. Actually, it is not the case that his undoubted public support has disappeared. The May 9 incidents did lost him a lot, but he still remains one of the country’s popular leaders. As such, he should be negotiated with. Unfortunately, if he continues to take a rigid position on any point, he is likely to find that the other side will not be willing to concede anything. He must no longer insist on involving anyone else, such as the establishment, in talks which should only take place among politicians, and while it went down well on the campaign trail in 2018, he must refrain from any name-calling this time. His appeal over the heads of the government to the establishment, for having installed a ‘cabal of crooks’ in his place, will not help matters. The last time, when the Supreme Court intervened, talks were held, and the PDM was reluctant. Mr Khan helped them by placing preconditions. He cannot let that happen this time.

The Editorial Department of Pakistan Today can be contacted at: [email protected].


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