ISLAMABAD: Amidst the heated political climate in the days running up to Imran Khan’s August 14 long march, opposition party leaders on Wednesday appealed to the ruling Pakistan Muslim League - Nawaz (PML-N) and Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) to reduce friction and try to come to an agreement.

Speaking to reporters after a meeting with PTI chairman Imran Khan, Jamaat-i-Islami (JI) chief Sirajul Haq affirmed his support to the PTI’s stance on electoral reforms, but stopped short of saying whether or not his party would join the PTI in the ‘Azadi’ march.

“We support Imran Khan’s demand for the electoral system to be made transparent. We also support his demand that complaints of elections candidates be addressed,” he said.

“All political leaders that we are in contact with want to avoid a clash and that the issue to be resolved smoothly. But we want to make it clear that the entire responsibility rests on the shoulders of the federal government.”

But when asked by a reporter whether he had decided on Imran’s invitation to join the PTI on Aug 14, he said: “We have a very large program in Islamabad in solidarity with Gaza on Aug 10, and then a ‘million’ march in Karachi. We will decide on the (PTI’s) long march after Aug 10. Right now, we are in contact with all political parties to reach a solution.”


Opposition hopes to ease tension between govt, PTI


Earlier in a joint press conference held after a meeting between Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) member Khursheed Shah and the JI chief, both leaders said they want to play a role in lowering the temperatures that have developed over the past few weeks into the current situation.

“We are in agreement that the constitution and democracy should remain intact," Leader of the Opposition in the National Assembly Khursheed Shah said.

The PPP leader said he is in contact with members of the government and will also contact Imran Khan to encourage a dialogue between the two sides.

“Secretary General JI Liaquat Baloch and Sirajul Haq will talk to Imran today. We will also contact other political parties to alleviate the situation,” he said.

Siraj said the meeting discussed both Imran's proposed August 14 march as well as the government’s attitude around it. “We plan to meet Imran Khan to discuss the situation,” he added. He also said that resignations will not resolve any issue and that tension between these political parties will only benefit a "third party".

“Protests and rallies are the right of every political party. We are grateful that there is democracy in the country and every citizen enjoys this freedom,” Siraj said.

“But politics is volatile. A middle ground should be reached to resolve issues. We are meeting so the strain between the PTI and government can be eased.”

Siraj also said that in a telephone call, former president and PPP leader Asif Ali Zardari had said that a situation which may bring an end to the democratic process should be avoided.

“Imran Khan has also said that he doesn’t want to derail democracy. But the situation has given way to a bottleneck. In this situation, it is the responsibility of political leaders to find a solution.”

In response to a question, Shah said Zardari is concerned about the sustenance of democracy in the country and wants the government to complete its tenure.

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