Islamabad: The federal government on Friday persuaded Imran Khan led Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf to resume the stalled talks amidst reports that the country’s powerful military had lately advised both sides to work for an early resolution of the current political impasse prompted by PTI and PAT sit-ins at the Constitution Avenue.
Though the PTI and government side did not admit any pressure or tacit advice from the military side to kick-start the stalled talks, but informed circles in the capital said country’s military establishment was compelled to use its influence at the back end as the whole scenario at hand was paralysing the government functioning, and at the same time giving disturbing signals to the world community.
There was, however, no headway in talks as the PTI-government ended and both exchanged proposals and counter-proposals while sticking to their respective positions, it was learnt. “We have told them our concerns and suggestions about their (government) proposals…and will meet them again tomorrow (Saturday),” PTI leader Shah Mahmood Qureshi told media briefly as he came out of the local hotel board room where the parleys were taking place till wee hours on Saturday.
“We are trying to find a middle ground and the talks will resume today on Saturday,” government committee member Federal Minister Ahsan Iqbal told media. The PTI side was represented by Shah Mahmood Qureshi, Javed Hashmi, Jahangir Tareen, KP Chief Minister Pervaiz Khattak, Arif Alvi, Asad Umar. The PML-N side was led by Punjab Governor Mohammad Sarwar, and comprised federal ministers Ahsan Iqbal, Pervaiz Rashid, Lt Gen (r) Abdul Qadri Baloch and Zahid Hamid.
Sources said the PTI leadership wants Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif to proceed on leave, with a pre-condition to resume his office as soon as the proposed Supreme Court Commission comes up with its findings on the 2013 elections fraud allegations. In case the commission finds irregularities in the specimen constituencies agreed in prior between the ruling PML-N and PTI, the government would have to hold fresh elections next year through a neutral caretaker set-up, the PTI proposal says.
The PML-N side was not ready to concede on PM’s resignation or proceeding on leave idea, and was instead asking the PTI to negotiate on rest of the agenda items, including elections audit, recounting, reduction of the government’s tenure from five to four years, as well as mutually agreed mid terms elections date. “Though nothing is concrete, but everything is on the table,” a federal minister confided on anonymity. The government is also working on a proposal to offer resignation of Punjab Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif or a long leave for the provincial chief executive till PAT’s demanded inquiry into the Model Town killings of its workers is completed, it was learnt.
As they reached a local hotel to resume the stalled dialogue process with the government, the PTI team leader Shah Mahmood Qureshi said the party had not changed its top most demand of resignation of the prime minister that was part of its six demands presented to the government on Wednesday. He claimed that PPP’s leader of opposition in the National Assembly Khurshid Shah was also supportive of their six demands, but with a changed order of lowering PM’s resignation demand. “Our demand that the PM should resign, still remains the top agenda item,” party President Javed Hashmi told media as he went in for talks.
The PML-N side however saw a ray of hope to woo the PTI side on heels of a statement by PTI leader Naeemul Haq who is a close aide of PTI chief Imran Khan. “There is a provision in the constitution that the prime minister can go on leave. And he can do so till the elections fraud allegations are completed,” Naeemul Haq told media in the evening. Both the march leaders, meanwhile, continued to deliver fiery speeches to their respective crowds through mid night hours amidst intermittent monsoon rain at the venue. The protesters led by the PAT and PTI remain well entrenched in the heart of capital through their separate sit-ins even on eighth straight day, and for a consecutive sixth day on the Constitution Avenue – nerve centre of the Pakistan government machinery.
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