Imran Adnan Following the ruling alliance and the opposition’s expression of willingness to engage in dialogue, the Jamaat-e-Islami (JI) announced on Sunday it would host an all parties conference (APC) after Eid Ul Fitr to develop consensus on same-day elections.
JI leadership has already initiated spadework for the much-needed APC as its Ameer Sirajul Haq called on Pakistan Tahreek-e-Insaf (PTI) Chairman Imran Khan and Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif on Saturday.
In the meetings, the JI Ameer propose that the APC held on one-point agenda – developing consensus on holding general elections across the country on the same day.
JI sources disclosed that the party believed that elections on different dates were not in the national interest and both the government and the opposition should find a middle-ground.
The JI leadership is of the view that the APC would help melt ice and ease tension between the government and the opposition. It will also provide an opportunity for convincing the government to agree to a date before October, and the PTI after May.
In order to materialise the proposal of holding APC after the Eid holidays, both the government and the PTI have constituted committees to deliberate with the JI leadership on the proposal.
The PTI announced the constitution of a three-member committee, comprising Pervaiz Khatak, Senator Ejaz Chaudhry and Mahmoodur Rasheed, which would engage with the JI under the “framework of the Constitution” for general elections in the country.
On the other hand, the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) has also given green signal to Khawaja Saad Rafiq and Sardar Ayaz Sadiq to hold dialogue with the JI leadership on the APC issue.
In a statement on Sunday, JI Ameer said that neither the Supreme Court nor the establishment could resolve the election-related issue. “Superior judiciary should give chance to politician to resolve their issues,” he said.
“All institutions should remain neutral of the elections,” he continued. “Political parties should come forward for a dialogue to end the current political crisis in the country,” he added.
The JI chief warned that the ongoing situation had created a “poisonous polarisation among the masses”. He said that it was very unfortunate that the people could predict court verdicts by the names of judge, as they knew which judge belonged to which side.
A day earlier, Siraj called on PTI Chairman and former prime minister Imran Khan at his Zaman Park residence in Lahore. He was accompanied by JI deputy chief Liaquat Baloch and Central Secretary General Amirul Azeem.
From the PTI side, Central Vice President Ejaz Ahmad Chaudhry, Senator Shibli Faraz and Hafiz Farhat Abbas, also attended the huddle. During the meeting, Siraj advised Imran to hold talks with the government.
In January this year, the provincial assemblies of Punjab and Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa (K-P) assemblies – the two provinces where the PTI was in government – were dissolved on the instruction of Imran Khan in a bid to force the federal government to call snap elections.
However, the incumbent coalition government has been reluctant to cave in to the former ruling party’s demand.
Siraj suggested the formation of a committee to forge “broad consensus” for holding the elections. The PTI chief welcomed the proposal and agreed to negotiate with the government “within the framework and limits of the Constitution”.
The JI chief expressed his opinion that elections in the country should be held at the same time. “The political situation resolve politically because Pakistan cannot afford any uncertainty,” he added.
Senior PTI leader Fawad Chaudhry, meanwhile, negated the impression of any breakthrough between the government and opposition, terming the efforts by the JI and others nothing but a move for “media consumption” only.
He said talks between his party and those in power – irrespective of whoever sat among them, and at a time when the PTI leaders were being arrested left and right – seemed pretty pointless as the intent of the government was very clear by the dint of its actions.
He maintained that elections within 90 days was not a matter of choice but a constitutional requirement, and any talks, which did not have polls at the core of their agenda, were pointless to begin with.
Fawad continued that the PTI would complete its ticket distribution process by the 18th of the current month after which its candidates would launch their election campaigns.
Earlier on Saturday, the JI chief called on Prime Minister Shehbaz along with a delegation in Lahore. During the meeting with Shehbaz, the JI delegation discussed the political and judicial crises in the country.
Shehbaz said in the meeting that negotiations with Imran could be held “within the framework of the Constitution”. Both the sides in principle agreed to resolve the current issues with “collective wisdom”.
Later, a 35-member delegation of clerics, led by Sunni Ittehad Council Chairman Hamid Raza, also met the PTI chief. They condemned the “malicious and immoral campaign” launched by the coalition government against the opposition.
They expressed “deep concern” over the “state-sponsored” activities of banned outfits.
The PTI chief appreciated the services of the religious leaders and underscored the role of clerics in dealing with challenges, including extremism and sectarianism.
Published in the Logical Baat, April 17,2023.