ISLAMABAD: The multi-party conference which was summoned on Feb 7 in light of a surge in terror attacks and economic meltdown will now convene on Feb 9 at Parliament House as Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif will depart for Ankara after an earthquake left over 3,000 people dead and thousands injured in Turkiye and Syria.
Meanwhile, the PTI, which had earlier linked its participation in the moot with the announcement of the election date, has hinted that it might consider attending the conference if the government changed its ‘discriminatory’ attitude towards the former ruling party.
A government source told Dawn that the prime minister would pay a day-long visit to Turkiye where a deadly earthquake had claimed over 2,600 lives. The change in the conference’s date was announced by the information minister, Marriyum Aurangzeb, on her Twitter handle. The minister did not mention the reason behind the change in plans, but a source told Dawn that the moot was rescheduled due to PM Sharif’s Turkiye visit.
In a tweet, the information minister said: “A joint strategy to combat terrorism and other challenges faced by the government will be discussed in the meeting. The National Action Plan will also be reviewed,” she added. Ms Aurangzeb said the entire political and national leadership of the country has been invited to the moot.
It may be noted that PM Sharif decided to convene the multi-party moot in a move that was seen as significant development amid rising political temperatures in the country. The invitation for the meeting was also extended to PTI chairman and former prime minister Imran Khan, which was “formally delivered” to party leaders Pervez Khattak and Asad Qaiser by the former speaker and federal minister, Sardar Ayaz Sadiq.
However, the PTI leaders denied receiving a formal invitation from the government to take part in the multi-party moot. In a statement on Monday, PTI Senior Vice President Fawad Chaudhry and former NA speaker Asad Qaiser said that the PTI would mull over participation in the MPC after a formal invite from the government.
‘No formal invite’
Fawad Chaudhry claimed the party came to know about PM Shehbaz Sharif’s invitation to the PTI through reports in the media. He stated that the PTI did not receive any formal invitation in that regard hitherto.
Reacting to the government’s invitation, Asad Qaiser said that the government representatives invited him to participate in the moot over the phone the other day, which “was not a proper way” of invitation to the conference.
He said that they were cognizant of the fact that the country was suffering from serious crises and there was a dire need for unity at this juncture. However, the government’s behaviour was unconstitutional, which was the main stumbling block in creating an environment of unity, he claimed.
He made it clear that if the government was really serious about dealing with mounting problems, it had to change its attitude and demonstrate maturity to pull the country out of the prevailing quagmire.
Asad Qaiser went on to say that the PTI government reined in terrorism in the country through a better strategy and established peace in the country. He said that the PTI always kept the interest of Pakistan supreme in its every policy due to which it got the desired results. “We are ready to forget all our differences for peace, but the government needs to change its behaviour first,” he added.
Ikram Junaidi also contributed to this report
Published in Dawn, February 7th, 2023
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