Govt extends ‘unconditional’ dialogue offer to PTI

Updated December 10, 2014

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Finance Minister Ishaq Dar speaks at a press conference in Lahore on Wednesday. – DawnNews screen grab
Finance Minister Ishaq Dar speaks at a press conference in Lahore on Wednesday. – DawnNews screen grab
Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif. — AFP/File
Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif. — AFP/File

LAHORE/ISLAMABAD: Following an advisory meeting in the wake of shut down calls by Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI), the ruling Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) on Wednesday extended an unconditional offer to the former for resumption of dialogue, DawnNews reported.

Speaking at a press conference in Lahore, Finance Minister Ishaq Dar, who has been assigned by Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif to resume talks with PTI, said that his party will leave power if the decision by the judicial commission on alleged poll rigging comes against it.

He added that both parties would have to accept the judicial commission’s decision on the matter. Dar, therefore, urged Imran Khan to postpone his scheduled protests till a decision is arrived.

The federal minister conceded that dialogue process was neither disrupted by the government nor was it broken by Tehreek-i-Insaf. It may be mentioned that both parties had been accusing each other for disrupting the talks initiated in August.

Dar said that the government would try to hold first session of dialogue on Thursday, demanding Imran Khan to not make any ‘unconstitutional’ decision till then.

Expressing concerns on including officials of intelligence agencies in the judicial commission formed to probe into the allegations, the finance minister said the government, however, would not object to it if the commission itself invites them.

Commenting on the recently formed parliamentary committee on electoral reforms, he said the committee was on track and had held 16 meetings on the matter since its inception a couple of months ago.

Imran ready to call off ‘plan C’

Reciprocating the government offer, PTI Chairman Imran Khan said that he will call off his ‘plan C’ if government is ready to set up a judicial commission before the PTI’s call to shutdown Karachi on December 12.

“The judicial commission can be set up within 24 hours and if the government is serious in talks then it should announce to set up judicial commission before our scheduled protest in Karachi,” he said while addressing participants of his ongoing sit-in at D-Chowk in Islamabad.

Khan, however, added that the Islamabad sit-in will continue until the decision of the commission.

“We will not ask anyone to shut down their businesses or shops in Karachi on Dec 12 as I don’t want to harm economy of the country,” the PTI chief promised.

“Ishaq Dar is demanding that we should call off this sit-in… I want to tell you [Dar] that the nation has already acknowledged their due rights through this sit-in,” he said. “The PML-N leadership has already realised that we will not call off this sit-in until getting our right,” Khan claimed.

He also offered leadership of Awami National Party (ANP) – PTI’s political opponents in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa – that he was ready to open ballet boxes for recounting votes in any constituency of the province.

PM assigns Dar to resume dialogue

Earlier in the day, Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif assigned Finance Minister Dar to resume dialogue with the Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf.

The decision was taken at a high-level advisory meeting held at the PM House, which was attended by Information Minister Pervaiz Rashid, Petroleum Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi, Defence Minister Khawaja Asif, Railways Minister Khawaja Saad Rafique, Interior Minister Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan, Safron Minister Abdul Qadir Baloch, Governor KP Sardar Mehtab and Chief Minister Punjab Shahbaz Sharif among others.

The meeting was held to discuss prevailing political atmosphere amid protests and shut down calls by the Imran Khan led PTI.

Prime Minister Sharif wanted the dialogue with the PTI to be resumed at earliest. The government would also ask the PTI to call off their 'plan C' to shut down cities and subsequently the country in coming weeks.

End protest for resumption of dialogue: Rashid

Earlier today, Federal Minister for Information and Broadcasting Pervaiz Rashid said that the government was willing to resume dialogue with PTI but for that Imran Khan would have to return to his container and call off his party's protests in different parts of the country, Radio Pakistan reported.

Rashid was speaking to reporters in the federal capital and said that the dialogue was discontinued on the direction of the PTI chief and the other way around.

Imran Khan should abandon his plan of closing different cities and come on the previous stage to provide a conducive environment for dialogue, the federal minister said.

A judicial commission would also be constituted and would start functioning as soon as there is a conducive environment for it, Rashid said in response to a question, adding that the decisions of the commission will be accepted and not criticised.

– Irfan Haider contributed to the reporting from Islamabad