ISLAMABAD: In response to Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) Chair­man Imran Khan’s latest offer of talks, Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz — a major partner in the coalition government — refused to budge from their stance that next general elections will be held as per schedule in October 2023.

However, soon after Mr Khan’s offer, Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif chaired a meeting of the ruling PML-N leaders and decided that moving a no-confidence motion against present provincial governments of Punjab and Khyber Pakhtun­khwa (KP) would not be a sagacious move and thus the coalition government would go for “wait and see” policy, a source in the ruling party told Dawn.

The source said the meeting did not rule out negotiations with the PTI but it was decided that next general elections would be held on time.

Federal Minister for Information and Broadcasting Marriyum Aurangzeb, soon after Imran Khan’s offer, replied in a tweet in two words —“Elections 2023”.

Shehbaz believes no-trust motion will be unwise, decides govt will go for ‘wait and see’ policy

“October 2023” was the ultimate election month, the minister said in a tweet in reference to a news channel’s report about Mr Khan’s proposal for talks for the snap polls’ date in a threatening tone. She advised Mr Khan to wait for next general elections till October 2023.

Also, Finance Minister Ishaq Dar, in a private TV programme, said the government stuck to its stance that elections would be held in Oct 2023.

“We can sit for talks with PTI but on any other issue except snap elections,” he said when asked about PML-N meeting, chaired by the PM.

He said the coalition government came into power through a constitutional way and it reserved rights to complete its constitutional term [till Oct 2023].

Similarly, PML-N leader and interior minister Rana Sanaullah said in a statement that deadlocks always ended through dialogues but the government decided that next elections would take place on time.

He, however, said if Mr Khan dissolved provincial assemblies of Punjab and KP, the government would give a robust response to the PTI chief’s move. He also reminded Mr Khan of his statement “he would prefer to die than to sit with them [PDM leaders]”.

He said the government would condemn if the PTI attempted to dissolve assemblies as it would still be an ‘undemocratic action’ even if it would favour his party. He said the PTI would itself be responsible if it dissolved Punjab and KP assemblies.

Mr Sanaullah said the government would not refuse dialogue with the PTI as it believed in resolving political matters in a political manner. “When political parties and politicians sit down, deadlocks end and paths to resolve conflicts are found,” he remarked.

PM meets Chinese investors

Meanwhile, in a meeting with a Chinese delegation, Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif invited Chinese companies to invest heavily in renewable energy projects in Pakistan, particularly solar energy.

The prime minister appreciated commitment of the vice chairman of China Construction Third Engineering Bureau, Tan Guofu, to invest more in infrastructure and energy projects in Pakistan.

Calling the relations between Pakistan and China very exemplary in all areas, Mr Sharif mentioned his recent meeting with the company’s president during his visit to China. He also hailed the company for its donations to the flood-affected people of Pakistan.

Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif meets Chinese investors at the PM House on Friday. — PID photo
Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif meets Chinese investors at the PM House on Friday. — PID photo

Special Assistant Tariq Fatemi, Zafaruddin Mehmood and other senior government officials also attended the meeting UAE’s National Day Mr Sharif also held a telephonic conversation with Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, President of the United Arab Emirates (UAE), to convey warm greetings on 51st National Day of the UAE.

Reaffirming the fraternal relations between Pakistan and the UAE, the two leaders reiterated their mutual commitment to further expand and diversify special bilateral relations.

Mr Sharif also paid tribute to Sheikh Zayed Bin Sultan Al Nahyan, founding president of the UAE, for his role in laying the foundation of close and fraternal relations between the two countries. The premier also extended invitation to the UAE President for a visit to Pakistan, which His Highness Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed graciously accepted.

Sheikh Zayed Bin Sultan Al-Nahyan is a regular visitor to Pakistan and also financed various philanthropic projects in Pakistan in the social sector. Sheikh Zayed Hospital is the prime example for his services to Pakistan. His name will be remembered for his philanthropic causes.

Mr Sharif thanked the UAE president for the financial and material support to Pakistan after the recent devastation caused by floods in Pakistan.

According to the PM Office, the UAE president reciprocated the greetings and extended best wishes to the people of Pakistan.

Pakistan and the UAE enjoy close fraternal ties for five decades that are rooted firmly in common belief and shared values and culture. The UAE is Pakistan’s largest trading partner in the Middle East and a major source of investments.

Mansoor Malik in Lahore also contributed to this report

Published in Dawn, December 3rd, 2022

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