Another bid to defuse political tensions ‘fails’

Published December 15, 2022
Two senior ministers — Ayaz Sadiq and Azam Tarar — called on President Alvi at the President House on Wednesday. — Picture via President of Pakistan Twitter
Two senior ministers — Ayaz Sadiq and Azam Tarar — called on President Alvi at the President House on Wednesday. — Picture via President of Pakistan Twitter

• Tarar says govt ready for elections in Punjab, KP
• Sana asks Imran to dissolve assemblies instead of giving dates

ISLAMABAD: Another attempt by President Dr Arif Alvi to bridge the thorny gulf between the government and the opposition proved unproductive on Wednesday, and soon after meeting him Law Minister Azam Nazeer Tarar revealed that the ruling Pakistan Democratic Movement (PDM) was ready to contest elections in Punjab and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KP) if PTI Chairman Imran Khan dissolved the assemblies in both provinces.

In the fresh meeting, two senior ministers — Ayaz Sadiq and Azam Tarar called on President Alvi. Soon after the meeting, the president flew to Lahore to meet Mr Khan, indicating that either he went there to convey a message of the ruling coalition to his party chief or he may advise Mr Khan on dissolution of Punjab Assembly.

A press release issued by the presidency said: “Federal Minister for Economic Affairs Sardar Ayaz Sadiq and Federal Minister for Law Senator Azam Nazeer Tarar called on President Dr Arif Alvi, at Aiwan-i-Sadr.”

Senator Tarar after the meeting said in a private TV channel’s talk show that the PDM was ready to take part in elections in Punjab and KP if Mr Khan dissolved both assemblies. “PDM is ready for elections in both provinces,” he said.

The minister said although it would be a new experience in Pakistan, in many countries elections of provincial assemblies did not take place simultaneously with the polls in the centre.

Responding to a question, the law minister said the president had given some suggestions regarding stabilising the crippling economy.

Before the Wednesday meeting, President Alvi had met Finance Minister Ishaq Dar in a bid to bring both sides [the government and the PTI] on table for formal talks on current political issues.

On the other hand, Interior Minister Rana Sanaullah said in a TV show that all meetings of the government representatives with President Alvi, including the one that took place on Wednesday, remained “futile” as the president has no authority to take any decision by his own for the party but Imran Khan.

It is believed that if Mr Khan dissolves the assemblies of Punjab and KP and manages to win elections of the two assemblies, then he will be in the better position to win next general elections to be held in October 2023.

The interior minister said: “The government, after thorough deliberations and considerations, has reached to a conclusion that it will vehemently contest elections in Punjab and KP, if both assemblies are dissolved.”

“We have decided that, if the two assemblies are dissolved, we will hold fresh elections there and, if PTI and its allied parties’ legislators resign, we will go for by elections on the vacant seats,” he added.

However, the minister believed that Mr Khan would not give any date of the near future for dissolution of the assemblies. “Now he [Imran] should not give dates, but dissolve both assemblies on Saturday,” he added.

‘Default soon if caretakers replace govt’

Rana Sanaullah said his party had gauged its weakness and would come up as the biggest party in Punjab in the elections, adding that Mr Khan would not get “facilitation” and support he had enjoyed in 2018 general elections and the recently held by-elections.

“We have suffered a big political loss by coming into power [eighth months ago] to save the country from being default. Now will gain and will tell people about lies, faulty economic policies and u-turns of Imran Khan,” he said, adding that “If we step down today and caretakers replace us, the country will default in three months,” he claimed.

The interior minister said PML-N self-exiled supremo Nawaz Sharif would return to the country and would lead his party’s election campaign during next general elections.

Answering a question, the minister said there was no pressure of Mr Khan on the government and the establishment regarding ‘invasion of Islamabad’ and ‘seeking date of elections’. “Now the establishment will not help Imran Khan to get date of new elections,” he added.

Published in Dawn, December 15th, 2022

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