ISLAMABAD: Former prime minister Imran Khan has agreed to participate in an all-parties conference (APC) proposed by civil society organizations to address the current political impasse around the upcoming general elections in the country, senior members of his Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) party confirmed on Wednesday.
A delegation of various organizations, including the Free and Fair Election Network, Human Rights Commission of Pakistan, and Lahore High Court Bar Association, met with Khan along with several senior journalists on Tuesday to help major political entities reach a consensus on general elections in the country.
The delegation was led by veteran journalist Imtiaz Alam, who was also accompanied by other media personalities like Hussain Naqi, Mujeeb Shami, and Suhail Warraich.
“The PTI agrees with the idea of holding the APC to settle issues related to the elections since we believe in dialogue,” the party’s senior vice president, Chaudhry Fawad Hussain, told Arab News.
He informed the meeting with the delegation focused on a single-point agenda of bringing various political forces together and letting them discuss their differences regarding the next general elections before reaching a breakthrough.
“Khan approved the proposal and supported the agenda,” Hussain added. “Therefore, we will move forward with it.”
However, he said that his party had urged the delegation to tell the government to stop arresting PTI supporters and journalists.
“In the last two days, our 500 people have been arrested or picked up,” he continued. “This practice must be stopped. After that, we are ready to sit with the government since we are peaceful people and want the masses to decide who their rulers should be.”
Alam, the delegation head, said the group had met with Khan on behalf of Pakistan’s civil society “to demand a solution to the political crisis.”
“We want the political atmosphere to cool down, and we have requested Khan to participate in a meeting of political party leaders in an APC,” he told reporters after the meeting. “Otherwise, the current situation would lead to a constitutional breakdown in the country.”
“The consensus reached at the APC should be given constitutional cover by parliament to prevent chaos in every election,” he added.
Alam said the former prime minister listened to the delegation with great interest and promised full support to its initiative to hold the APC.
Given the overall political environment of the country, he continued, organizing free and fair elections would be challenging. He also urged the government to reconsider its actions like filing terrorism cases against PTI leaders and supporters.
“We also recognize Khan’s genuine concerns about his safety and oppose any attempt to exclude any leader from the political process, except through elections,” he added.
He said civil society would organize the APC by inviting all major political players to participate.
“We have already met with Khan and plan to meet with the prime minister and other important leaders in the country like Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari and Maulana Fazlur Rehman,” he said.
Alam maintained that civil society would leave it to politicians to decide and reach a consensus to resolve the ongoing issue of political instability, adding there was no other way forward.