Dawn News

ISLAMABAD, Aug 15: The Pakistan Muslim League-N has dismissed as unnecessary and a distraction an offer made by Prime Minister Raja Pervez Ashraf for talks on a caretaker set-up for holding general elections.

Talking to reporters at the Punjab House here on Wednesday, Leader of Opposition in the National Assembly and PML-N stalwart Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan said his party had no intention of having an interaction with the PPP-led coalition on the issue of a caretaker set-up because it was not necessary under the Constitution after the passage of the 20th Amendment.

“We are not in contact with the government, nor is it expected in future in view of the prevailing situation. The impression given about such contacts on the issue of interim set-up has no basis in facts,” he said in reference to Prime Minister Ashraf’s speech at an Independence Day function in which he invited the opposition for talks on all important issues, including a future caretaker set-up and elections.

The prime minister had said that “for holding an impartial and transparent general election, we are taking the opposition into confidence, and for this we have taken a start with the consensus appointment of chief election commissioner (CEC)”.

The Prime Minister’s Secretariat later issued a handout which said that Mr Ashraf had called Chaudhry Nisar and Punjab Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif to exchange Independence Day greetings. It said the prime minister was contacting major political leaders as part of an initiative to maintain a congenial environment as the nation was approaching general elections so that they were held in a free, fair and impartial manner.

Chaudhry Nisar was of the opinion that the government had tried to give an impression that it was holding formal talks with the opposition on the issue of caretaker set-up and elections in an effort to revive its lost prestige. He said there was no use of talks with a regime whose past record was full of broken promises.

The PML-N leader said he would propose two names for the head of the interim government in consultation with other opposition parties after Eid as he had done at the time of appointment of the new chief election commissioner.

He ruled out the possibility of any engagement with the government mainly because of its bad governance, confrontation with the judiciary and failure to nominate leaders of the opposition in Sindh and Balochistan assemblies.

He said holding talks with the government at a time when people were suffering because of price hike, lawlessness, corruption and loadshedding would amount to making a mockery of their sentiments. After the passage of the 20th Amendment, he said, the role of the government in the process of appointing a caretaker set-up had become secondary and in case of a deadlock the matter would automatically go to the ECP for a decision.

WAZIRISTAN OPERATION: Chaudhry Nisar expressed concern over reports that the government was planning to launch a military operation in North Waziristan and warned that such a decision would lead to a new wave of terror and lawlessness in the country. Such a move would not be supported by the masses.

In an apparent reference to an interview by US Defence Secretary Leon Panetta in which he claimed that Pakistan had decided to launch a military operation against the Taliban in North Waziristan, he asked the country’s military leadership to abide by parliament’s resolutions and do not push the soldiers and any territory of the country into war on foreign dictates.

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