The much-anticipated talks between the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) led ruling alliance and the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) remained inconclusive on Tuesday as leaders from both sides confirmed that there was a “stalemate” between the two sides on the date for the dissolution of the assemblies and holding of the general elections in the country.
PTI & Govt Meeting:
Though the negotiators from the ruling alliance and the PTI failed to develop a consensus on the date for dissolving the National, Sindh and Balochistan assemblies and holding polls, Finance Minister Ishaq Dar said that both sides agreed upon holding general elections on the same day under the caretaker set-up, saying that both sides have agreed to accept poll results as well.
On Tuesday night, the government and the PTI held the third round of talks at the Parliament House. However, they were unable to resolve the ongoing political and constitutional stalemate as both sides failed to make progress on the dissolution of assemblies and the holding of general elections.
As on the previous occasion, the representatives of the government and the PTI entered a room, which was the banquet hall this time, closed the doors, had dinner, and deliberated on the issues that have been under discussion since April 27.
However, just like on the previous occasions, they couldn’t convince each other on the key issues.
In the words of PTI Vice Chairman Shah Mahmood Qureshi, neither consensus could be reached on the date for assemblies’ dissolution nor on holding elections.
Following the meeting, Qureshi announced that the PTI would approach the Supreme Court, brief it about the negotiations, and request the court to go with its earlier order of holding elections in Punjab on May 14.
After the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) postponed the polls in Punjab to October 8 due to the lack of funds and unavailability of security, despite initially announcing that the polls would held on April 30, the Supreme Court intervened in the matter.
Following the intervention, government officials and PTI leaders sat across the table to discuss the issue.
The apex court later on proposed to the political parties to reach a consensus on holding polls together across the country or else the court would give its decision.
Addressing the media after the talks, Dar said that the discussions took place in a positive atmosphere and both the government and the PTI agreed to hold the elections on the same day under the caretaker set-up across the country. However, he said, the date for the elections has not yet fixed.
Without elaborating much, Dar considered the consensus on holding one-day elections as a significant progress.
He mentioned that both sides had narrowed down on the date but had not yet reached an agreement. He also stated that both sides would consult their leadership on the issue once again.
Dar hope that if both the sides continue working together with sincerity, the issue would soon resolved.
Railways Minister Khawaja Saad Rafique, Law Minister Azam Nazir Tarar, Economic Affairs Minister Ayaz Sadiq, Commerce Minister Syed Naveed Qamar, Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) Senator Yousaf Raza Gilani, Muttahida Qaumi Movement-Pakistani’s (MQM-P) Kishwar Zehra, and Pakistan Muslim League-Quaid’s (PML-Q) Federal Minister for National Food Security and Research, Tariq Bashir Cheema flanked him. Gilani, speaking alongside Dar, stated that both sides had agreed to accept the election results.
The PTI’s side, which is being represented by Qureshi, Senior Vice President Fawad Chaudhry and Senator Barrister Ali Zafar, also spoke with the media outside the Parliament House.
Qureshi confirmed that there was an agreement on holding elections on the same day under the caretaker setup but no headway on dissolution of assemblies and polls’ date.
The deadlock between the government and the PTI was evident as both the sides haven’t decided any date for the next meeting yet.
Barrister Zafar told that “there is a stalemate in talks”, saying the next meeting would take place if the government gives a date for the dissolution of the assemblies before May 14.
To a question whether PTI would continue talks if the government gave a date for the dissolution of the remaining assemblies before May 14 but dissolved the assemblies later on, he said: “We will see then.”
PTI’s Qureshi said:
Qureshi mentioned that on April 19, the Supreme Court had advised political parties to convene and find a solution. He stated that the PTI still believed that elections in Punjab should take place on May 14.
He stated that the PTI was willing to provide a one-time constitutional cover for past and future events, as the 90-day constitutional deadline for holding elections of the Punjab and Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa assemblies, which the PTI had dissolved in January, had already expired.
For that, he added, the PTI would also have to return to the National Assembly and it was ready for that.
“The PTI wants to reach an agreement in writing so that it can be presented before the top court.”
He said that the statements of the PML-N lawmakers, including Khawaja Asif, Ahsan Iqbal, and Javed Latif, complicated the environment instead of making it conducive for talks.
He added the PTI went ahead with the talks despite the PML-N leaders’ statements, arrest of its workers and raid on the residence of PTI Central President Chaudhry Pervaiz Elahi.
Qureshi said that the PTI would inform the top court about the progress in talks with the government in writing, saying that the PTI would request it to go ahead with its decision of holding polls in Punjab on May 14 as “there has been no progress in the talks”.
He said the PTI also wants elections in K-P at the earliest.
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