ISLAMABAD: Despite efforts by Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif and the ruling coalition to convince Maulana Fazlur Rehman’s party to become part of a potential dialogue with the PTI, the JUI-F continues to oppose the move.

Almost all parties in the ruling coalition have shown an inclination to end the political impasse by entering into negotiations with the PTI, but Dawn has learned that JUI-F is proving to be a tougher nut to crack in spite of efforts, particularly by the PPP leadership.

Another round of intra-coalition talks will be held on Wednesday (today), as confirmed by Information Minister Marriyum Aurangzeb.

The meeting, to be chaired by PM Shehbaz, would discuss the possibility of talks with the opposition PTI, the Supreme Court verdict, and the date of the Punjab polls set by the top court.

Spokesperson says Fazl will not take part, even if ruling coalition agrees to hold dialogue with PTI

However, it will be an uphill task for the prime minister to convince the chief of the Pakistan Democratic Movement (PDM). Although the Maulana had categorically announced that he would not join the dialogue with the PTI, his party would also meet coalition partners at 2pm today.

JUI-F spokesman Aslam Ghauri told Dawn that in the meeting, the party leadership would discuss the behaviour of the judiciary and the option of talks with PTI.

He, however, added that the JUI-F chief has “decided not to sit in talks with Imran Khan-led PTI, even if the government goes ahead with the dialogue” as mandated by the top court.

Asked what would be the reaction of the JUI-F in case a dialogue was held, the spokesperson said, “In that case, we will decide our future line of action.”

Information Minister Marriyum Aurangzeb also corroborated this, saying the JUI-F had not agreed to talks with the PTI.

PML-N parliamentary meeting

Also on Wednesday, the PML-N will hold its parliamentary committee meeting at Parliament House, followed by a meeting of the federal cabinet.

PM Shehbaz will also chair a meeting of the ruling parties at the Prime Minister’s House where coalition partners are expected to decide the future line of action regarding talks with the PTI and the issue of “confrontation” with the judiciary on the issue of elections in Punjab.

A source in the ruling alliance said the government would decide whether to stand its ground in its faceoff with the judiciary opt for confrontation by snubbing the dialogue with the PTI, and what stance to take on polls in Punjab if it agrees to hold talks with the opposition party.

Published in Dawn, April 26th, 2023

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