Pakistan asks Imran Khan to end anti-government protests

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Islamabad, Dec 7: Pakistan government has asked opposition leader Imran Khan to end his anti-government protests before heading for talks and make an atmosphere conducive to resumption of dialogue.

"Protests and talks cannot go together," Information Minister Pervez Rashid said yesterday while addressing a meeting of the Federal Executive Council of a faction of the Pakistan Federal Union of Journalists.

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The minister asked the leadership to take steps for making the "atmosphere conducive to resumption of dialogue," the Dawn reported.

Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) leader Arif Alvi expressed surprise over the minister's condition for talks. "The atmosphere has been conducive to talks for past many months as there has been no violence or any unconstitutional act committed by the PTI," he said.

Finance Minister Ishaq Dar, who led the government's negotiating team before talks with the PTI collapsed in September, has already said that dialogue could resume soon after his return to the country from the UK.

Despite public pronouncements of their willingness to resume talks, both sides have been accusing each other of putting hurdles in the way of dialogue.

A source in the Pakistan Muslim League (PML-N) was quoted as saying by the newspaper that the prime minister was expected to have a consultative meeting with his close aides in a day or two to discuss the agenda for talks with the PTI.

Meanwhile, Khan has announced to go ahead with him plan to impose phased shut-down in the country by December 18. The party has threatened to protest tomorrrow and close down Faisalabad city, the industrial hub and textile backbone of Punjab.

Khan has been agitating since mid-August outside parliament with his supporters, demanding Sharif's ouster as he alleges that last year's general election, which his party lost and which brought Sharif to power, was rigged.

PTI

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