Govt, opposition meet today to lower political temperature

Published January 25, 2021
A crucial government-opposition meeting is scheduled to take place in an effort to lower down political temperatures in the country. — APP/File
A crucial government-opposition meeting is scheduled to take place in an effort to lower down political temperatures in the country. — APP/File

ISLAMABAD: All eyes will be on the Parliament House on Monday (today) where a crucial government-opposition meeting is scheduled to take place in an effort to lower down political temperatures in the country.

Besides, a meeting of the parliamentary group of the Pakistan Muslim League-N (PML-N) will be held and it was likely to be attended by party’s vice president Maryam Nawaz.

The PML-N’s parliamentary group is meeting only a day after differences with­­in the Pakistan Democratic Movement (PDM) came to the surface on the issue of mode of the anti-government campaign, when party’s secretary general Ahsan Iqbal publicly opposed the proposal of Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) chairman Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari to move a no-confidence motion against Prime Minister Imran Khan in the ­parliament.

A three-member government delegation which had met the opposition leaders on Friday, seeking better relations at least in the parliament, will hold another round of talks with opposition parties — this time with National Assembly Speaker Asad Qaiser also accompanying the government team.

PML-N’s parliamentary group also set to go into session

Due to the opposition’s refusal to go to the speaker’s chamber, sources said the meeting would now be held at the presi­dent’s chamber in the Parliament House.

When contacted, Minister of State for Parliamentary Affairs Ali Muhammad Khan confirmed that the meeting would be held at “another place” as it was not appropriate for the speaker to go to the opposition leader’s chamber where they had met opposition members on Friday.

The minister, however, claimed that the place where the meeting was scheduled to be held was a part of the speaker’s chamber.

Before holding talks with the opposition, the minister said, they were also scheduled to meet Prime Minister Imran Khan to seek his “guidelines”.

Besides Ali Muhammad Khan, Defence Minister Pervez Khattak and chief whip of the ruling Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) in the National Assembly Amir Dogar are members of the government committee which held negotiations with the opposition members on Friday.

The talks remained fruitless, but both sides had agreed to meet again on Monday to make another effort to reduce political tension in the country. Talking to Dawn here on Sunday, PML-N’s senior vice-president Shahid Khaqan Abbasi said they had decided to stay away from the House Business Advisory Committee which was headed by the speaker as there was no use of the committee as in the past, the speaker had never been able to run the house in accordance with the decisions taken by the committee.

However, he said the government team which came to them last week had requested the opposition to provide an opportunity to the speaker to explain to them as to how he planned to run the house.

Mr Abbasi said the opposition had clearly told the government team that the parliament could not be run in the manner it was trying to run it.

He alleged that the speaker was not independent and he was receiving instructions from the PTI’s high command.

“The speaker doesn’t understand what we say and we are not able to understand whatever he says,” Mr Abbasi stated in a lighter vein.

Responding to a question, he said Opposition Leader Shehbaz Sharif, PML-N’s parliamentary leader Khawaja Asif and PPP leader Syed Khurshid Shah, who were at present under the custody of National Accountability Bureau (NAB), had categorically asked them “not to beg before the speaker for their production orders”.

After a joint session of the parliament in September last year which had been convened to pass legislations related to the Financial Action Task Force (FATF), the opposition had announced that it would boycott meetings of all committees headed by Speaker Asad Qaiser due to his biased conduct during the joint session.

Differences within PDM

When contacted, PML-N Information Secretary Marriyum Aurangzeb said a meeting of the party’s parliamentary group would be held in the Parliament House on Monday before the start of sessions of the two houses of parliament to discuss the prevailing political situation and the strategy to be adopted for the ongoing parliament’s sessions.

Speaking at a news conference in Lahore on Saturday, PML-N secretary general Iqbal had asked PPP chairman Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari to show the required numbers before considering the move to oust PM Khan through a no-confidence motion in the National Assembly.

Earlier, the PPP chairman had said the PTI government could be sent packing through constitutional, democratic and legal options such as through a no-confidence motion.

All member parties of the opposition’s PDM would be convinced to use this option and reach a consensus on the issue, the PPP leader had said, explaining that a no-confidence resolution could be tabled in the National Assembly against the ‘selected’ prime minister and the speaker.

Sources in the opposition told Dawn that previously the PPP during PDM meetings had suggested first bringing a no-confidence motion against Punjab Chief Minister Usman Buzdar as the ruling coalition had a very thin majority in the province.

Talking to Dawn on the issue, Mr Abbasi dispelled the impression about the rift within the PDM, stating the PPP’s no-confidence proposal was an old thing.

Published in Dawn, January 25th, 2021

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