Govt-PTI final round of talks today amid ‘dissenting voices’

PM Shehbaz says elections to be held same day in October n Javed Laif says PML-N won’t go for talks with those who declared others ‘Mir Jafar’ and ‘Mir Sadiq’ and who conspired against state institutions and the Constitution n PTI’s Qureshi says why Kh Asif and Javed Latif becoming a hindrance in dialogue.


ISLAMABAD    -    The representatives of the ruling coalition and the opposition Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) are set to meet today in a crucial round of elec­tion talks amid inflex­ible gestures of some leaders from both sides dimming the success chances of the talks.

Some senior leaders of the ruling Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) are showing their disapproval of the government-talks, rais­ing concerns that the process may not move ahead positively in the given situation.

Some critical remarks of Defence Minister Khawaja Muhammad Asif and another feder­al minister Mian Javed Latif while opposing the talks prompted PTI Vice Chairman Shah Mahmood Qureshi to come in the public to say why PML-N leaders were becoming a hin­drance in the process.

Prime Minister She­hbaz Sharif the other day, while holding con­sultations with his par­ty leaders, made it clear that the coalition government would not back down from its demand for simultaneous elections across the country in October.

On the other hand, PTI chair­man Imran Khan has said that his party would be ready for si­multaneous elections if the gov­ernment agrees to dissolve as­sembly before May 14.

The government, however, has termed the demand imprac­tical saying that it wanted to complete its term which will ex­pire on August 11 this year.

Meanwhile, Chairman Sen­ate Muhammad Sadiq Sanjra­ni, who is facilitating the talks, has changed the timing of to­day’s sitting from 11am to 9 pm. The timing of talks has been changed with the mutu­al agreement of both sides and due to some busy engagements of the members of the negotia­tion team, said a statement is­sued by the Senate Secretariat. The almost final round of talks would be held at the Senate Secretariat.

The almost final round of talks would be held at the Senate Secretariat. Senior PTI leader Fawad Chaudhry has expressed the hope for any positive out­come of the negotiations only if the federal government agrees not to present the budget for the next fiscal year.

“Our core demand is that the federal government should not give the next budget before go­ing into election,” said Fawad said in an interview to The Na­tion yesterday.

He expected that the dead­lock in the talks could end if the Pakistan Democratic Move­ment-led ruling alliance showed some flexibility on the issue.

“The presentation of the budget is the main stumbling block in the way of talks,” said former information minister Chaudhry, adding that the gov­ernment was insisting on giv­ing the next budget, which will be political in nature. “The move will create problems for the next government.”

Fawad Chaudhry is of the view that a consensus could be developed on the same day of election for national and pro­vincial assemblies if the gov­ernment agrees that the next caretaker setup gives a provi­sional budget as a stopgap ar­rangement till the new govern­ment seizes power.

Fawad Chaudhry said that PTI was ready to accept the govern­ment demand of holding elec­tions of national and provincial assemblies on the same date. “A constitutional amendment would be needed if elections have to go beyond 90 days of the constitutional limit and we are ready for that,” he said.

PTI leader Chaudhry said that the issue was why an outgoing government should present the next budget, which will bind the next government to implement the former’s fiscal policies. He further said that the Constitu­tion allowed the caretaker gov­ernment to present a budget for an interim period of four months. He said that Pakistan’s budget was facing complexities due to the lingering economic crisis and this could not be left on an outgoing setup.

Chaudhry explained that this didn’t affect the PTI even if the government completed its con­stitutional terms because the party would get more popular­ity in these next few months. “But the present ruling alliance has no plan to run the country, which couldn’t be kept in this political turmoil for a longer pe­riod of time.”

PTI Vice Chairman and former foreign minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi said that his party lead­ership is ready to go forward with the negotiations but their party will not allow the PDM to play with sentiments of people in the name of negotiations.

“The PDM will have to give us a clear answer about holding general elections in third round of negotiations which is going to be held on Tuesday,” Qureshi said while talking to media in Rawalpindi.

At the same time, he cautioned that PTI is ready for launching a movement if elections are not held under the Constitution.

The former foreign minister also lashed out PML-N senior leaders and said that the gov­ernment and the opposition are set to enter the final round of election talks but why PML-N’s Khawaja Asif and Javed Lat­if were becoming a hindrance in the ongoing dialogue. 

He also denounced Javed La­tif of PML-N statment that dia­logues with terrorists can’t be held.

Addressing a press conference earlier in the day in Lahore, Fed­eral Minister Mian Javed La­tif said that PML-N had nev­er shied away from elections, and it believed in political dia­logue to sort out issues. Howev­er, it would not go for talks with those who declared others Mir Jafar and Mir Sadiq, and who conspired against the institu­tions and the Constitution.

“Whenever we held negotia­tions, we did it on the basis of democracy,” he said and add­ed that ‘Panchayats’ were nev­er held in courts, as the courts were supposed to decide mat­ters/ disputes as per provisions of the Constitution. He said any ‘Panchayat’, held at the will of one person, would not be suc­cessful. “We have to stand more strongly for supremacy of the Parliament and the Constitu­tion,” he vowed.

The negotiations between the government and the op­position party had started last 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. 

The federal government has already defied the order of the apex court to hold general elec­tion in Punjab on May 14.

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