Stark doubts persist as govt, PTI resume talks tomorrow

Assad Umar accuses ruling PDM of pushing country towards danger for sake of vested interests

Kh Asif raises question about ongoing talks saying PTI is only making arguments n Ahsan Iqbal says elections to be held after completion of five-year tenure n Ch Fawad warns strategy in place if egotiations fail.

ISLAMABAD    -   As the final round of talks be­tween the government and the opposition Pakistan Teh­reek-e-Insaf (PTI) are going to be held tomorrow, the leader­ship of both sides are not looking optimistic about the success of these dialogues, initiated on the apex court order to decide about the general elections roadmap, with some of them taking con­flicting positions. Speaking to the media in Sialkot on Sunday, Defence Minister Khawaja Asif raised questions over the ongo­ing parleys between the opposi­tion PTI and the PDM teams to evolve consensus on holding the elections across the country si­multaneously.

“What will be the result of the negotiations? PTI is only making arguments,” the senior PML-N leader remarked.

Referring to the negotiations teams, the defence minister questioned: “Whether the Pan­chayat [council] has been set up in a legitimate way or in an ille­gitimate way”.

On the other hand, PTI leader Fawad Chaudhry said that the party wants talks with the gov­ernment to be successful. How­ever, he warned that his party has a “strategy” in place if the negotiations fail. “PTI wants the talks [with the government] successful, but if failed, it has a strategy in place,” said the for­mer federal minister in a tweet on Sunday. “It is not possible for the PTI to sit quietly if the Con­stitution is considered just pa­per waste and the public as in­sects,” he stated, calling upon the people to get ready for a movement. “The movement is starting tomorrow with ral­lies in Lahore, Peshawar and Is­lamabad, the peak of which will mark a historic long march,” the PTI leader added.

Contesting this stance, Federal Minister for Planning, Develop­ment and Special Initiatives Ah­san Iqbal has said that elections in the country will be held after completion of five-year constitu­tional term of Assemblies.

At a press conference in Norw­al, the minister said that according to the Constitution, national and provin­cial assemblies should be allowed to complete their terms. He said elec­tion to all assemblies would be held on the same day, which would en­sure transparency. The federal min­ister said that even today, the gov­ernment’s stance was that Sindh, Balochistan and the National Assem­bly could not be dissolved to appease a naive person like Imran Khan. If one person had dissolved his two assem­blies on the advice of the army chief, the people of Sindh and Balochistan could not be made to suffer due to his wrong decision, he added.

The negotiations between the gov­ernment and the opposition party started earlier this week on the ad­vice of the top court. The develop­ment was regarded as a major break­through in the weeks-long deadlock between the ruling alliance and the opposition party on the elections date. After two rounds of talks, the two sides are expected now to hold the final round of talks tomorrow.

With both the sides refusing to budge from their respective stances, chances that the dialogue will yield positive results are looking dim. 

Speaking to party workers the oth­er day, PTI chairman Imran Khan had said his party would be ready to dis­cuss the election date only after the dissolution of the National Assem­bly before May 14 — the date fixed for elections in Punjab as per the su­preme court’s order dated April 4.

“The PTI’s negotiating team will meet the government side for the third round on Tuesday and present its demand to dissolve the National Assembly before May 14, otherwise, the PTI will go ahead with the Punjab general elections as per the Supreme Court’s order,” Imran said and added the PTI would also approach the Su­preme Court for earlier general elec­tions in Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa as the constitutional timeframe of 90 days had already lapsed.

Speaking to the media in Karachi, Umar said that the PTI was holding negotiations with the ruling PDM at the suggestion of the Supreme Court.

He also accused the ruling PDM of pushing the country towards “dan­ger” for the sake of vested interest.

The former federal minister said the country cannot progress unless all sides agree to a unanimous accord to resolve the country’s issues.

He said that Tuesday (May 2) will be the last chance for the negotiations.

Umar said that not holding elec­tions within 90 days is a violation of the Constitution and added that the next polls after the imminent one would be held as per the new census.

Separately, in a PML-N meeting chaired by PM Shehbaz Sharif in La­hore a day earlier, the senior leader­ship decided it would not back down from its demand for simultaneous elections across the country in Octo­ber, said the sources.

After repeated back and forth last week, the Supreme Court, on April 20, had afforded a temporary respite to the country’s main political parties, giving them time until April 26 to de­velop a consensus on the polls date to the provincial and national assem­blies, so they could be held simultane­ously across the country.

Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam-Fazl (JUI-F) chief Maulana Fazlur Rehman, how­ever, decided to stay away from the talks as his party believes that the negotiations with Imran Khan’s PTI would not succeed.

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