ISLAMABAD - Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif has asked his cabinet members and party legislators to avoid creating confrontational situation when Pakistan Tehrik-e-Insaf (PTI) chief Imran Khan returns to the National Assembly on Monday (today) after a long gap during which he painted the House as ‘a product of rigging’ alarmingly polluted with ‘corruption.’

“We will welcome him back despite all what has happened in the past months. The PM wants to start afresh,” a senior minister told The Nation.

“The PML-N (Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz) will not create a scene as we are the ones who wanted them back. The last time (when Imran Khan attended the joint sitting of the Parliament in April on Yemen crisis) is a thing of the past,” the minister, close to the prime minister, said referring to the hooting by the PML-N lawmakers that left a bad taste.

Imran Khan was not seen in the Parliament after that ‘warm welcome’ but the recent verdict by the Judicial Commission, ruling out organised rigging in the 2013 polls, and the later developments – that saw the Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam (Fazl) and the Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM) withdraw their motions to deseat the PTI lawmakers – convinced Imran Khan to revisit his boycott of the House.

And on Friday, the PTI announced that Imran Khan will be attending the National Assembly from Monday. Talking to The Nation, Minister of State for Parliamentary Affairs Sheikh Aftab Ahmed said that Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif wants the Parliament to be a place of solutions rather than becoming a battleground.

“Even after the Judicial Commission’s decision we were humble. We did not claim victory as we believed it was a victory for democracy not a party. The PM (in his address to the nation) also spoke of joint efforts for the prosperity of the country,” Ahmed recalled.

The minister said the PML-N and the PTI can work together in the future as “in politics there are no permanent friends or foes.”

“We can definitely agree on certain things. There are so many policy issues on which we (the PML-N and the PTI) have the same point of view. I am not predicting that they will join the government but we can move along smoothly without fighting,” he commented.

Asked, what the govt’s expectations from the PTI were as they resume participation in the parliamentary proceedings under Imran Khan, Ahmed replied, “We feel they will not be hostile. They will take the issues seriously and criticise on merit not for the sake of the opposition.”

“If they give us better suggestions to resolve the national issues, we will welcome them. We need that kind of support from the Opposition to make consensus decisions,” he added.

The minister opined that all the parties must respect each other’s mandate and refrain from becoming part of problems. “The people have voted for us to solve their problems. We should be part of solution not problems,” he remarked.

PTI lawmaker Nasir Khan Khattak told The Nation that his party was aiming for ‘political stability’ and will be playing the role of a ‘real Opposition.’

“Insafians (Imran Khan’s supporters) will not be creating unnecessary hurdles. Political stability is our aim. We will try to correct the government where they go wrong,” Khattak said.

“Our full-fledged participation in the National Assembly proceedings will bring positive results. We will concentrate on legislation and will not hesitate to support the government when they are taking a right decision,” he pledged. The PTI leader believed that the most important task before his party was to contribute on the electoral reforms.

“The reforms will ensure that future elections are rigging free. We have been raising voice for a transparent system, so we will contribute fully for such legislation,” Khattak mentioned.

He suggested that the media, as a fourth pillar of the State, also needed reforms. “We support laws to eliminate yellow journalism. Pakistan needs reform in all sectors but the main pillars like the Parliament, judiciary and media should be corruption free as a priority,” he emphasised.

To a question, he said, “We do not want confrontation with the government. I think they should not drag us to the point where we have to take to streets. Healthy criticism is the role of the Opposition and we will not play a role of a silent spectator to wrong decisions.”

Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif is not likely to attend the Monday’s session of the National Assembly as he will fly to Belarus on the invitation of Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko for a two-day visit. It would be the first-ever visit by any Pakistani prime minister to the Republic of Belarus. A number of important agreements and Memoranda of Understanding (MoUs) are expected to be signed during the trip.