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'Imran Khan didn’t approach Army to end deadlock'

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Islamabad, Apr 15: A senior leader of Pakistan’s ousted prime minister Imran Khan’s party on Friday disputed a claim by the military that the former premier approached the Army high command to end the political deadlock.

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Shireen Mazari, who was the human rights minister in the previous Cabinet, took to twitter to make a counter claim that it was actually the military that sought a meeting with Khan through defence minister Pervez Khattak. She also said that the military put forward three proposals to Khan, including either facing the no-trust vote, resigning from his post or holding fresh elections in return for the Opposition withdrawing the no-trust move.

"Let me be clear — I am stating on record [that the] PM did not call military for help on 'breaking political deadlock'," she tweeted.

"The military sought the meeting through then Defence Minister Pervez Khattak and they put forward the 3 proposals of either PM resigning or taking part in VNC (vote of no-confidence) or fresh elections!" Mazari of Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf party said.

Her statement came a day after military spokesman Maj. Gen. Babar Iftikhar declared that the Army's high command remained away from the political wrangling and the Army chief met just once with Khan at his request. When asked whether the military had approached the former premier and given him three options as had been revealed in an interview by Khan, Iftikhar denied this, adding that it was in fact the Prime Minister’s Office that had approached the Army chief to find a solution to the political deadlock.

"It is unfortunate that our political leadership was not ready to talk to each other. So the Army chief and the Director-General of Inter-Services Intelligence went to the Prime Minister’s Office and three scenarios were discussed," he said at a press conference on Thursday.

Iftikhar also said that Khan had agreed to the option that the no-confidence motion should be retracted and then assemblies be dissolved, but the combined Opposition rejected the idea. The Army spokesman also said that “no option from the establishment was given.” Mazari, in another tweet, rejected the impression that Khan was ready to resign and hold fresh elections.

“Why would Imran Khan give option of resigning when he had already stated categorically and repeatedly he would never resign. Makes no sense! Also Imran Khan had categorically rejected VNC as foreign regime change conspiracy. So why would he suggest these options. Absurd!” she said.

The three options came to surface for the first time in an interview by Khan with ARY News before his ouster. He said that the "establishment" had given him three options. "We said elections is the best option, I cannot even think about resigning and as far as the no-confidence vote is concerned, I believe in fighting till the end,” he said. Pakistan political crisis started on March 8 when the no-confidence was filed and ended on April 9 when Khan became the first prime minister in history of Pakistan to be ousted through such a move.

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