–PA speaker says any breakthrough will require ‘patience and hard work’
–JUI-F chief demands end to ‘lopsided’ justice and accountability, wants govt to withdraw case against Justice Isa
ISLAMABAD: After holding two ‘botched’ rounds of talks with the Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam (JUI-F) chief Maulana Fazlur Rehman who is heading the Azadi sit-in at H-9 ground, the government on Wednesday sent in Punjab Assembly Speaker Pervez Elahi, seeking to break the impasse between the government and the opposition parties.
Elahi, who is a member of the government’s negotiation team, has met Fazl several times over the past week to facilitate the ongoing dialogue.
After the meeting, Pervez Elahi sounded hopeful and told reporters that “positive progress” was being made in the talks between the government and opposition regarding the Azadi March.
In a response to weeks-long talks between the two parties, he said “several processes” were simultaneously underway but that any breakthrough will require “patience and hard work”.
FAZL DEMANDS END TO ‘ONE-SIDED JUSTICE’:
Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam-Fazl (JUI-F) chief Maulana Fazlur Rehman on Wednesday reiterated the opposition’s demand to end “one-sided accountability and justice”.
Addressing the participants of the Azadi March, the JUI-F chief said the case made against Supreme Court judge Qazi Faez Isa must be quashed, announcing his support for the lawyers body that have been protesting the reference against the SC judge.
Fazl said that people could not get justice in Pakistan. “There is no justice in the country. NAB is helpless when it comes to holding the government responsible in Pakistan,” he said.
“We want a constitutional government which truly reflects the Constitution of Pakistan,” said Fazl.
Fazl said that he and the Azadi marchers had arrived in Islamabad to save the country and they won’t back off until the demands are met.
“If these unqualified people present the next budget, then God forbid, the country will collapse,” he said, expressing his resolve for an indefinite sit-in till the fall of the government.
The JUI-F chief announced converting ‘Azadi March’ into Seerat-e-Tayyaba Conference on 12 Rabiul Awwal, falling on Sunday.
The JUI-F chief also praised the spirit of the protesters in spite of heavy rain and increasingly cold weather.
“If we can survive rain and stormy winds then nothing can stop us from achieving our targets,” he said in his address to the protesters.
Meanwhile, the prime minister’s special assistant on information and broadcasting, Firdous Ashiq Awan, urged “politically isolated” JUI-F chief Maulana Fazlur Rehman to “step out of self-deception”.
“Maulana should step out of self-deception and [stop] bothering the public. You have failed in [your] scheme. Do not attack the democratic process and insult the public mandate like the others who were rejected in the general elections.”
Though the government has shown interest in reaching a breakthrough with the protesting opposition leader, the PM’s aide has adopted a no-holds-barred approach against the JUI-F chief. She has time and again criticised the maulana for holding the sit-in for “ulterior motives”.
Speaking about the JUI-F chief, Religious Affairs Minister Pir Noorul Haq Qadri said Fazl’s track record showed that he always “keeps options open and never walks into a dead end”. “He believes in the politics of reconciliation. So some pathway to break the deadlock is sure to emerge.”
The religious affairs minister said that the protesters’ demand for the prime minister’s resignation is one that can’t reasonably be fulfilled.
NO RESPITE IN SIGHT:
The second round of talks between the joint opposition and the government ended without any breakthrough.
The opposition’s demands include immediate resignation of Prime Minister Imran Khan, re-elections in the country, no role of the army in the electoral process, and supremacy of the constitution.
Speaking to reporters after the meeting, Defence Minister Pervez Khattak had said both the sides stuck to their respective positions
“The government agreed to several of the opposition’s demands and that talks will continue on the rest of them after consultations with the two sides’ leadership,” he had said, adding that the government was trying to find a middle ground with the opposition to break the ongoing deadlock.
Khattak had said the talks between the two sides were held in a “good atmosphere”.
Speaking on the occasion, Head of Rehbar Committee Akram Durrani had said the opposition delegation was standing firmly on their demands of the resignation of Prime Minister Imran Khan and new general polls.
Durrani said that the Rehbar Committee has also demanded that the fresh polls would be conducted without army’s supervision.