Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif on Tuesday extended an olive branch to Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) chief Imran Khan, urging him to set aside his acrimony, for now, and work together for providing relief to fellow countrymen affected by unprecedented rains and floods.
Speaking to the international media at the PM House, the premier said he “wish to ask Mr Khan to sit with him and move forward on relief efforts and bring the country out of this crisis.”
“Let’s put together a united effort, let’s move with unity of thought and action, let’s move in unison,” Shehbaz said in an unprecedented appeal to his predecessor, at a time when both the government and the former ruling PTI are at daggers drawn following Imran’s alleged threat to the police, judiciary and the army and the subsequent cases against him.
Besides this interaction, the PM had a busy Tuesday, as he reached out to several world leaders and expressed his gratitude for extending moral and financial aid to Pakistan to mitigate the sufferings of the flood-hit people
Denying apprehensions that the rescue effort may have got delayed because the media was preoccupied with the wrangling between politicians, Shehbaz said he had on multiple occasions offered to form a ‘charter of economy’, but was not taken seriously by Mr Khan.
The PM also virtually ruled out the possibility of vegetable imports from India to overcome shortages caused by devastating floods, saying the two sides needed to talk about the human rights situation in India-held Kashmir. He added he was ready to sit with Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi and talk over the issue.
Shehbaz, however, said a committee had been constituted to explore the possibility of importing vegetables and other food items, revealing the government was in talks with Russia for import of wheat.
After the meeting, he also tweeted: “If it is us today, it can be somebody else tomorrow. Threat of climate change is real, potent and staring us in the face.”
In another tweet, PM Sharif said in line with his commitment, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan was leading a humanitarian aid drive for the flood-affected people of Pakistan. “[Six] flights have landed so far; 2 more will arrive tomorrow. Train carrying relief goods left Ankara for Pakistan,” he tweeted.