'Let's sit down and talk': Pak PM Shehbaz Sharif extends olive branch to Imran Khan

The Nawaz Sharif-led PML-N and Khan's PTI have been at loggerheads for years

File photo of Pakistani Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif. (Photo: PTI)
File photo of Pakistani Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif. (Photo: PTI)


Pakistan Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif on Wednesday, June 26, 2024, extended an olive branch to his predecessor and political rival, Imran Khan, offering to hold talks with him if he was facing "troubles" in jail.

Khan, the founder of his Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf party, has been in jail since August last year after being convicted in some of the nearly 200 cases slapped on the 71-year-old cricketer-turned-politician 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 Khan's Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) have been at loggerheads for years, particularly after the 8 February 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."

"If someone is facing any injustice, then I believe that the scales of justice should be in favour of those [being victimised], there is no difference over it — whether it be any politician or anyone from any walk of life," Geo News quoted Sharif as saying.

Sharif lamented that he had once again, while he was in the opposition, proposed to Khan to sit for a dialogue but such slogans were raised again.

"So who is responsible for this bitterness [between politicians]. We don't even shake hands now," he said.

Sharif, 72, also recounted his ordeal of facing victimisation by Khan's government and that he was in jail when his mother passed away.

He said that despite being a cancer survivor and with a backbone issue, he used to be taken to courts on the ordinary prison van just to exacerbate the condition, but he never complained.

In response to Prime Minister Sharif's remarks, 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 lady 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.

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