Imran Khan calls for immediate talks amidst standoff with military

Former Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan urged for immediate meetings with state officials on Friday, as pressure mounted on him amid a crackdown on his senior aides and followers, which has resulted in thousands being jailed and more fleeing his party.

Khan has been at odds with the military since he was deposed last year in a parliamentary vote he claims was organized by the country’s top generals. This is denied by the military.

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The standoff heated up earlier this month when Khan’s fans staged violent rallies following his brief imprisonment.

“I would like to appeal for talks, because what is currently happening is not a solution,” Khan said in a live talk streamed on YouTube, warning that the country was headed towards anarchy.

As Pakistan suffers its greatest economic crisis in decades, political turmoil has increased. Inflation is at an all-time high, economic development is sluggish, and there are fears that the government could default on its foreign loans unless the International Monetary Fund releases delayed payments.

The call for discussions came as pressure rose on his party and followers, 33 of whom were handed over to the army on Friday to face trial in military courts on allegations of damaging armed forces sites, according to interior minister Rana Sanaullah.

The 33 suspects are among thousands of people imprisoned since Khan’s arrest on May 9 prompted violent protests across Pakistan.

Khan was detained and charged with graft, which he denies. While he was later released on bail, his conflict with the country’s senior generals has heated up.

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