Ruling PML-N forms committee to initiate separate dialogue with PTI and PAT
Party leaders say all demands will be considered except call for resignations
The government’s senior leadership Sunday decided to launch a formal direct dialogue with Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) and Pakistan Awami Tehreek (PAT) from today (Monday) and announced the formation of two negotiating committees which would hold talks separately with the two protesting parties on all issues except resignations of Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif and Punjab Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif.
Sources told Pakistan Today that some kitchen cabinet ministers advised Prime Minister Sharif to ask Shahbaz Sharif to tender resignation in a bid to placate the situation, however, the younger Sharif refused to do so and rather urged the premier not to concede to this demand of the protesting parties as the PTI and PAT chiefs actually wanted a resignation by the prime minister and not him.
Later in the day, Nawaz and Shahbaz flew to the federal capital where they convened a meeting of the party’s top leadership at the Punjab House. The meeting decided that the PML-N team for dialogues would comprise Defence Minister Khwaja Mohammad Asif, Railways Minister Khwaja Saad Rafique, Interior Minister Chaudhry Nisar, Information Minister Senator Pervez Rashid and Minister for Planning Ahsan Iqbal.
Sources in the PML-N government told Pakistan Today that though the PML-N government had not yet made any direct contact with PTI and PAT chiefs, however, it has been in touch with both of them through indirect channels.
“Despite deadlines and ultimatums by the PTI and PAT chiefs, we have decided to continue the dialogue process with PTI and PAT leadership through separate committees till the last minute. Engagement is the only option and there will be no use of force,” the sources added.
Interior Minister Chaudhry Nisar later told a press conference that the two separate committees would hold talks with the PAT and PTI. He said that these committees would also comprise leaders from all other political parties to ease tensions. He said that the committees would be given a mandate to make the dialogue successful.
Nisar also urged Khan and Qadri not to make a tradition of “might is right”, appealing the protesting parties to return to democratic order in best interest of the future of the country.
“The PTI is alone and no political party is supporting them,” the interior minister said, adding that civil disobedience movements worked less against governments and more against politics itself.
“We are ready to accept all of Khan’s constitutional and legal demands,” said Nisar, urging the PTI chief and Qadri to work for democracy and Pakistan by uniting the country.
MQM, JI CHANNELS BEING USED:
The sources said that it was also decided to use the channels of Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM), opposition leader Khurshid Shah and Jamaat-e-Islami chief Sirajul Haq as facilitators, however formal dialogue would be held directly with the government’s committee.
“MQM chief Altaf Hussain has been approached by Khwaja Saad Rafique and he has agreed to facilitate the talks, saying that he does not support PTI’s violation of Red Zone and the demand for resignations,” the source said.
The source added that Hussain also urged the PML-N government to seriously consider the demand of electoral reforms.
JI WANTS MID-TERM POLLS:
The PML-N has also contacted Haq who has asked the government to make some “special announcements” to appease the opposition parties.
“Haq has asked the government to consider some major options including re-election or midterm elections, make electoral reforms for holding free, fair and transparent elections and also make sure to hold immediate process for vote verification and vote recount when and if a complaint is filed,” the source added.
The source said that the JI chief has not yet responded over the demand made by PTI and PAT for resignations from the prime minister and Punjab chief minister but the government believes that Haq would not support these demands.
When contacted, MQM leader Wasim Akhtar confirmed that PML-N minister Saad Rafique and Punjab Governor Chaudhry Sarwar were in touch with the MQM leadership, and Sindh Governor Dr Ishratul Ebad and Haider Abbas Raizvi were involved in facilitating the dialogue process.
People need confidence building measures before talks. Minimum acceptable is shareef stepping down. Otherwise, Govt is only buying time by engaging in talks.
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