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Wednesday May 22, 2024

PTI-PDM dialgoue: Govt ready to hold elections in Sept, final round on Tuesday

Government and PTI agreed to meet again on Tuesday after second day of negotiations while deciding to streamline proposals exchanged with each other on basis of accommodation

By Asim Yasin & News Desk
April 29, 2023
The PTI and PDM leaders holding negotiations for elections. Twitter
The PTI and PDM leaders holding negotiations for elections. Twitter

ISLAMABAD: The government and Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf on the second day of negotiations decided to streamline the proposals exchanged with each other on the basis of accommodation and agreed to meet again on Tuesday (May 2) for the final round. During Friday’s session, while the government expressed its readiness to hold elections in September, PTI called for convening them simultaneously in July.

The second round of talks between the coalition government and PTI was held at the Committee Room 1 of parliament on Friday. The government team comprised former prime minister Syed Yusuf Raza Gilani, Finance Minister Senator Ishaq Dar, Law Minister Senator Azam Nazir Tarar, Minister for Railways Khawaja Saad Rafique, Minister for Commerce Naveed Qamar, Minister for National Food Security and Research Tariq Bashir Cheema and Kishwar Zahra while the PTI delegation included Vice Chairman PTI Shah Mehmood Qureshi, Senator Ali Zafar and Fawad Chaudhry.

Following the second round of dialogue, both the government and PTI signaled positive progress and said they were slowly moving forward. According to sources, the PTI wanted the date of elections to be fixed before the budget while the government insisted on a date after that.

Sources claimed the government has shown flexibility on holding elections in September instead of October while the PTI is pushing for elections in July.

Speaking to the media, Finance Minister Senator Ishaq Dar said it had been agreed that the progress made today will be shared by both sides. “Since it is a holiday on May 1, so we’ll meet again on Tuesday, May 2,” he said.

While indicating that it would be the final round, he clarified there is no deadlock as progress has been made on both sides and both have given their proposals. “Now we will meet on Tuesday for the final round,” he said.

Speaking to the media separately outside the Parliament House, Senior Vice Chairman of the PTI Shah Mahmood Qureshi said that progress was made on the basic points and a way to move forward should be found while staying within the Constitution. “We presented our point of view and we will now go to Lahore and take Imran Khan into confidence,” he said.

He said the conversation started on the point of arrests being made in Islamabad for which there was no justification. No FIR was registered against anyone and no one disturbed peace, but the people sitting in the car were picked up, Qureshi said.

We asked the government if they wanted to hold talks in such a vitiated atmosphere and “they (the government) understood that and our 33 workers were released,” he said.

Vice President PTI Fawad Chaudhry said the indiscriminate, needless arrests would subvert the entire negotiation process. “Ali Amin Gandapur was granted bail in all the cases but remains under detention and the ministers say that we are not making the arrests, so the question arises, then who is doing it? It is the responsibility of the government not to spoil the environment,” he said.

Before Friday’s round of talks, the government representatives held a consultative meeting in the chambers of Chairman Senate where Chairman Sadiq Sanjrani was also present. The government delegation streamlined its strategy during the two-hour huddle.

Sources said the government wants to settle issues without dissolving the assemblies, whereas the PTI had presented three conditions in the first round of negotiations on Thursday.

In the second round, the PTI withdrew the three conditions and brought a one-point agenda of dissolving the National Assembly in May followed by simultaneous, countrywide elections.

The government witnessed flexibility in Imran Khan’s position and he seemed willing to set a new date for the election. The PTI sources believe that the government through parliament wants to strengthen its resistance narrative and it is not interested in talks. The government believes that its vote bank can be protected with its hawkish and resistance narrative, the sources said.

During the break for Asr prayers, Shah Mahmood Qureshi contacted Chairman PTI Imran Khan and informed him about the details of the talks. The sources said the PMLN negotiating team would take Nawaz Sharif and heads of other coalition parties into confidence on talks with the PTI before the start of the third round to get their views for the way forward.

Meanwhile, Interior Minister Rana Sanaullah has clarified that the federal government does not have the power to dissolve the provincial assemblies in Sindh and Balochistan, a condition for holding early and simultaneous elections across the country.

Speaking in the Geo News programme Naya Pakistan on Friday, the interior minister said the provincial assemblies in Sindh and Balochistan would complete their constitutional term on August 13. This would follow the interim governments in these provinces after which the general elections are likely in October this year. He said elections in KPK would be held on October 8, the only deadlock is on holding elections in Punjab. Both sides, he said, must show flexibility and a way out could be found on “holding elections before or after the budget.”

To a question, Sanaullah said if the negotiation teams reach a positive conclusion and that is also approved by the respective party heads, it would be acceptable to all. “We have to take approval from the allied parties on whatever is decided in the negotiations,” he added.

Regarding arrests of PTI workers, he said all of them had been set free and Fawad Chaudhary was making a needless issue out of it.

To a question, Sanaullah said the PTI blundered by dissolving its assemblies in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and Punjab.