ISLAMABAD: PDM chief Mau­lana Fazlur Rehman on Thursday reiterated that his JUI-F would not be part of any negotiations with the opposition PTI and announced a mass contact campaign to be launched across the country soon.

The remarks came hours before the government comprising the PDM and PPP held first round of parleys on the initiative of Senate Chairman Sadiq Sanjrani with Imran Khan-led PTI on the issue of elections.

“We stand by our position that we are not in favour of negotiations with PTI,” the Maulana said, adding adding that calling for consultations among the politicians is the job of Election Commission.

“I wonder why the [Supreme] Court has got into this debate of 90 days,” he asked rhetorically.

Says JUI-F will soon kick off countrywide mass contact drive; expresses surprise over decline in population of urban Sindh

Talking to media after a meeting of JUI-F’s Central Working Party, he said, “We do not call the Supreme Court’s decision of holding elections in Punjab on May 14 unacceptable, but we say it is unworkable.”

Any party emerging winner in Punjab — if polls are held in the province now — will go on to have the same results in other provinces as well, he pointed out while explaining the JUI-F’s opposition to snap elections.

Maulana Fazl recalled the meeting of the heads of the coalition parties held on Wednesday under the chairmanship of Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif to hold negotiations with PTI.

The prime minister agreed that talks should be held in the Senate building as the upper house of parliament is a symbol of federation, he said.

Mr Rehman pointed out that traditionally elections for the national and provincial assemblies have always been held at the same time.

When asked that holding elections within 90 days is a constitutional requirement, he said: “It was the responsibility of the Election Commission to call politicians for consultations to discuss this issue, why the court is stuck on the point of 90 days.”

He emphasised that saving the federation meant saving the country.

The Maulana noted a change in the attitude of apex court during Thursday’s hearing, saying it did not insist on talks between politicians, something it had been consistently stating over the last few weeks.

The JUI-F emir also criticised the census results in urban parts of Sindh, saying it was strange that the population was declining in those areas, and demanded additional seats in assemblies for those areas.

He said a commission should be formed to address any complaints over the census.

He said JUI-F would launch a mass contact campaign in the country, adding that schedule for rallies would be released soon.

Published in Dawn, April 28th, 2023

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