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Imran mulls over Bilawal’s friendship offer on Panamagate

LAHORE: Pakistan Tahreek-i-Insaf Chairman Imran Khan is considering PPP Chairman Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari’s “friendship” offer and will decide in this regard after consulting his party leaders on Tuesday (today).

“The PTI is considering Bilawal’s offer of joining hands on Panamagate and other issues, but a final decision in this regard will be taken in a meeting presided over by Mr Khan on Tuesday (today) in Islamabad,” PTI Secretary General Jehangir Tareen told Dawn on Monday.

He said the party would see the seriousness of Bilawal’s offer as on the one hand he (PPP chairman) was extending hand of friendship while on the other he was issuing statements against Mr Khan.

“Actually, we (PTI and PPP) were on the same page on Panamagate. We had jointly finalised ToR for Panama probe and the PPP even joined the PTI’s Lahore rally. But then it decided not to be part of the PTI’s Raiwind and Islamabad protests,” Mr Tareen said, adding the PTI wanted to take opposition parties along.

Mr Tareen said the PPP was keen to revive itself in Punjab and for the purpose it needed the support of other opposition parties against the PML-N.

Bilawal had recently declared that his party was ready to join hands with Imran Khan after knowing his (Mr Khan’s) ‘intentions.’ He also admitted that a ‘working relationship’ with Mr Khan could not be established.

Bilawal recently said that fighting against Nawaz Sharif was not a child’s play and in case a working relationship was developed with Imran Khan, “PPP and PTI can get Nawaz Sharif out of the ring”.

PPP Information Secretary Qamar Zaman Kaira told Dawn that the PPP wanted to take all opposition parties along, including PTI, as it believed that joint opposition could achieve its target.

To a question about PPP’s efforts for a “ceasefire” with the PTI with regard to statements against each others’ leadership, Mr Kaira said: “From our side there had been no hostile statements against the PTI leadership. We always try to exercise restraint and take the (other) opposition (parties) on board on important issues.

Kaira said Mr Bilawal had extended a hand of friendship to Imran Khan as he believed that a joint opposition was always stronger and could give a tough time to the government.

He said the PPP would seek cooperation from PTI and other opposition parties for acceptance of its four demands – passage of PPP’s Panama Bill, reconstitution of a parliamentary committee on national security, implementation of its resolution regarding CPEC and appointment of foreign minister.

“The PPP never believes in solo flight and it will make serious efforts to take PTI and other opposition parties on board on our demands to the government,” Mr Kaira said.

Mr Bilwal has warned the Nawaz government to accept PPP’s four demands by Dec 27 or face a “long march”.

Published in Dawn, November 8th, 2016

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