No headway in talks between PTI, PML-Q

Published February 4, 2020
"The main concern of the PML-Q is that there should be no more talks on settled issues," says Shafqat Mahmood. — DawnNewsTV
"The main concern of the PML-Q is that there should be no more talks on settled issues," says Shafqat Mahmood. — DawnNewsTV

LAHORE: Deadlock bet­ween the estranged ruling coalition partners persisted on Monday despite the visit of a federal minister as member of a new committee formed by Prime Minister Imran Khan to resume talks with the Chaudhrys of Gujrat to resolve the ‘thorny’ matters amicably.

Federal Education Minister Shafqat Mahmood visited Pakistan Muslim League (PML-Q) leadership Chaudhry Shujaat Hussain and Chaudhry Pervaiz Elahi at their residence and had a one-on-one meeting with Mr Elahi for 90 minutes to address their reservations over the ‘promised’ share in power and development funds for their lawmakers.

Although Mr Mahmood termed his meeting with Mr Elahi ‘positive’, he declared that the new committee also comprising Punjab Chief Minister Usman Buzdar and Governor Chaudhry Sarwar would call on the Chaudhrys later this week to address their concerns. “The main concern of the PML-Q is that there should be no more talks on settled issues. We have ensured them that the government will implement the agreed points and the new committee will hold talks onwards,” he told reporters following the meeting.

Dispelling the impression that the PML-Q could quit the coalition over growing differences with the Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf, Mr Mahmood said: “Both parties are together and the PML-Q’s concerns are not the ones that cannot be addressed. We will soon meet the PML-Q committee comprising Moonis Elahi and Tariq Bashir Cheema to resolve the outstanding issues,” the minister said, adding that Mr Elahi was a senior leader and “we want to learn from his experience”.

While talking to Dawn after the meeting, Mr Moonis said the PML-Q stance was categorical. “Let’s first implement the points agreed with the earlier Jehangir Tareen-led committee of the government and then there is no issue on holding talks with the new committee.”

Asked if his party had some issue with any of the three members of the new committee, the PML-Q MNA said: “We have absolutely no issue with any of them rather we enjoy good relations with them. Our principled stand is...we see no point in holding another round of talks with the government’s new committee until the earlier commitment is honoured.”

Replying to a question about PM Khan’s ‘distrust’ in Tareen-led panel, Mr Moonis said: “We do not know why the premier felt the need to replace the committee that had been in contact with us for the past two months or so and succeeded in addressing our concerns.”

On Sunday, the PML-Q president declared his party would not hold talks with the new committee till “all points agreed” with Tareen-led panel were implemented in letter and spirit.

The gulf between the ruling PTI and its coalition partners widened after PM Khan stopped his confidant, Mr Tareen, from further holding talks with the PML-Q and the Muttahida Qaumi Movement-Pakistan reportedly on complaints from some PTI leaders that he was more inclined to protect the interest of the alienated partners than government’s.

Federal Minister Tariq Bashir Cheema who belongs to the PML-Q said the ball was in government court regarding implementation of the agreement that they signed after the 2018 general elections. “If the government fails to honour this agreement, then the party leadership will decide about the future of the coalition,” he decalred.

Mr Cheema also criticised the PTI government over a massive reshuffle in bureaucracy in Punjab without consulting his party in the process.

Published in Dawn, February 4th, 2020

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