• PPP opposes ‘shutting the door’ on talks after JUI-F rejects the idea
• Conflicting views emerge within PML-N
• JI suggests polls in July
ISLAMABAD: The ruling coalition seems to be divided on holding talks with Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) to discuss elections, as Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) on Friday urged all political parties to sit together to resolve contentious issues whereas Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) and Jamiat Ulema-i-Islam-Fazl (JUI-F) have already rejected the idea of having a dialogue with Imran Khan-led party.
The ruling PML-N itself is split on the matter, with some of its leaders such as Senator Mushahid Hussain Syed asserting that they should talk to the PTI while some others such as Interior Minister Rana Sanaullah opposing the idea.
The PML-N and JUI-F have shown inflexibility for talks with the PTI at a time when the opposition party’s chairman Imran Khan has expressed willingness that not he but his party men could hold talks with the government on key national issues, including elections and crippling economy.
After PPP’s core committee meeting, which was chaired by its chairman Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari and PPP (Parliamentarian) President Asif Ali Zardari, PPP leader Farhatullah Babar in a statement said: “The meeting stressed that shutting the door of dialogue is not the solution. For this purpose, the party decided to approach all the parties in the coalition government for taking a joint position on the issue of dialogue among the political parties.”
Discussing recent court verdict regarding Punjab polls, Mr Babar said the PPP believed there were numerous reasons for the current political crisis, and not because the minority verdict should take precedence over the majority court verdict. But “this position is untenable legally, morally and politically and needs to be reviewed,” he said.
Mr Babar said the PPP was of the opinion that the judiciary’s honour and prestige should not be allowed to be impaired in any way. “To achieve this, it is essential that numerous apparently conflicting verdicts of the honourable court are resolved expeditiously,” he added.
The major ruling coalition partner also believed that in the interest of fair and free elections, general elections to all assemblies be held the same day, on a date provided in the Constitution. The PPP reiterated that it would not countenance any delay in the holding of elections beyond the mandate date in the constitution, he said.
Earlier on Friday, PML-N Senator Mushahid Hussain Syed while speaking in the upper house of parliament said national unity was the need of the hour. He called for a dialogue to steer the country out of the political crisis. He advised the ruling coalition and the opposition PTI to end their ongoing fights with the judiciary and the military establishment, respectively. He asserted that the Constitution should be followed and elections should be held on time. “Political forces should not wait for a phone call from outside. Let us not get involved in unnecessary battles, because a fight against institutions is unwinnable,” he said.
He said that the executive was bound under Article 90 to comply with SC verdicts and Article 68 put restriction on discussing the conduct of superior courts judges in the parliament in discharge of their duties.
Meanwhile, Jamaat-i-Islami (JI) chief Sirajul Haq at a Seerat-un-Nabi Conference said that to stop uncertainty in the country, general elections should be called in July 2023.
Blaming both the ruling coalition and the PTI for polarisation in society that resulted in creating a divide within and among institutions, the JI chief said the parliamentary parties on both sides of the aisle should start dialogue on the election agenda if at all they were interested in saving the fragile democracy.
“The national institutions particularly the judiciary, the military establishment and the election commission should stand neutral in the best interest of the nation and the country and general elections should be held in July 2023 to stop uncertainty,” he asserted, while also accusing PDM member parties, the PPP and the PTI of protecting the status quo.
Recently Interior Minister Rana Sanaullah stated in categorical terms that the PML-N would not with the PTI for talks — a stance endorsed by Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif.
JUI-F to never sit with ‘criminal’
Also, in his speech in the National Assembly on Thursday, JUI-F leader Maulana Asad Mehmood declared that his party would never sit on the table with Imran Khan who, he said, was a ‘criminal’. “I want to say it categorically that we will not sit with Imran Khan for talks and to finalise a date for the elections. He is a criminal and should be tried under Article 6. This is the stance of my party. The judges had themselves declared that he [Imran] had violated the Constitution and today they [judges] have fallen in love with him,” said Mr Mehmood while referring to the judges’ advice that politicians should sit together.
Earlier on April 3, six ruling coalition partners after a meeting with some mediators from civil society had urged all ‘warring political forces’ to sit together and find an amicable solution to the prevailing political, economical and judicial crisis.
For this purpose, they also highlighted the need for holding a multiparty conference, according to a joint statement issued at a presser after the meeting at National Press Club.
Published in Dawn, April 8th, 2023