As the SC deadline approaches, Prime Minister convenes a meeting of allies on talks with PTI today

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Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif (center), Pakistan People's Party co-chair Asif Ali Zardari (right) and Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam – Fazl chief Fazlur Rehman (left) speak at a press conference in Islamabad, March 28, 2022. - AFP
Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif (center), Pakistan People’s Party co-chair Asif Ali Zardari (right) and Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam – Fazl chief Fazlur Rehman (left) speak at a press conference in Islamabad, March 28, 2022. – AFP
  • Nawaz Sharif can also join meetings virtually.
  • Asad Qaiser of PTI and Ayaz Sadiq of PML-N are expected to meet today.
  • SC had given an April 27 deadline for talks.

LAHORE: Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif today (Wednesday) convened a meeting of the ruling alliance for negotiations with Pakistan’s Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) over the Supreme Court’s directions.

Party sources said the top leadership of the ruling Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) and its allied parties along with their legal sorcerers were supposed to participate in the meeting, while there were chances that Nawaz Sharif – who is currently in Saudi Arabia is – can also participate virtually.

The sources aware of the matter said that the meeting of the ruling alliance will be held at the prime minister’s house at 12:30 pm.

At the last meeting of the coalition partners, Bilawal Bhutto Zardari, chairman of the Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP), suggested entering into a dialogue with the PTI, but the leader of the Pakistan Democratic Movement (PDM) Fazlur Rehman firmly rejected the proposal.

PMLN sources claim that the party leadership has asked Ayaz Sadiq to contact PTI’s Asad Qaiser and both have agreed to meet today. However, PTI chief Imran Khan has clearly stated that the mandate for negotiations rests with Shah Mahmood Qureshi.

On April 20, the Supreme Court adjourned hearing the petition until April 27 after the main ruling parties – PPP and PML-N – assured the Supreme Court that they would meet with the PTI on April 26 and try to find a solution to the election date.

A three-member bench of the Supreme Court — headed by Chief Justice Umar Ata Bandial and consisting of Justice Ijazul Ahsan and Justice Munib Akhtar — has requested a progress report on the talks by April 27.

‘Discord’ between ruling allies

A dispute arose between the ruling parties over holding talks with the PTI on April 18, sources said Geo newsfollowing Jamaat-e-Islami (JI)’s bid to bring both parties to the negotiating table.

The PDM coalition partners met in Islamabad after Prime Minister Shehbaz convened a meeting on the political situation in the country and the JI’s negotiating efforts.

During the meeting, there was disagreement between the parties in the coalition government over holding talks with the opposition party as some believed that PTI Chairman Imran Khan could not be trusted, while others insisted that political forces should not be allowed to use the channels for negotiations to block.

PPP Chairman Bilawal emphasized engaging in dialogue with the opposition, with Muttahida Qaumi Movement-Pakistan (MQM-P), Balochistan National Party, Balochistan Awami Party, Chaudhry Salik and Mohsin Dawar backing him, sources said.

Bilawal said closing the door to talks is against his party’s principles and “undemocratic”.

But representatives of the Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam-Fazl (JUI-F) and the Jamhoori Wattan Party (JWP) rejected Bilawal’s view, saying it is not in the interests of the coalition to hold talks with the ousted prime minister – who was removed from office in April last year by a vote of no confidence in the National Assembly.

Later, the PPP supremo also held a separate meeting with the JUI-F chief to convince him.

Following SC guidelines, both Bilawal and Fazl rejected the order, calling the dialogue between political parties as mandated by the court “conversations at gunpoint”.


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