ISLAMABAD: A day after a rare meeting between Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif and KP Chief Minister Ali Amin Gandapur, President Asif Ali Zardari welcomed their interaction, hailing it as a positive step towards tackling the challenges facing the nation.

“It is high time we started thinking of working towards healing the divisions Pakistan has been going through,” President Zar­dari said in a statement issued on Thursday.

The president said he had always advocated prioritising Pakistan above all else, and it was time “we gave people hope in the democratic process by showing them it could work”.

“This outreach is a good beginning,” President Zardari added.

PML-N leaders assure KP of Centre’s support; Hammad Azhar says ‘no compromise’ on Imran’s mandate

Days after refusing to attend the oath-taking ceremonies of PM Shehbaz and President Zardari, KP CM Gandapur broke the ice by meeting the premier on Wednesday, assuring him of working together “with a positive intention to resolve the problems of the people”.

After a long political battle in which both sides bashed each other at almost every forum, it was the first time that PTI and PML-N representatives sat together and vowed to shun their differences in the larger interest of serving the nation.

The PM assured the KP CM that, considering the current economic crisis, the Centre would fulfil all genuine demands of the KP province.

Also on Thursday, Federal Minister for Planning Ahsan Iqbal hailed the meeting and said that the Centre would resolve all problems of KP and provide all outstanding dues to the provincial government.

“We have to work together to resolve people’s problems. Resour­ces of the KP will be utilised for the betterment of the people,” he said.

Meanwhile, Information Minister Ataullah Tarar said that the meeting was a positive development for the country, adding that if these meetings continue, then he could see the country moving towards a solution to its economic problems.

He said the Constitution provides the government with a federal set-up of governance, which entails close coordination between the provinces and the Centre to work together.

He reiterated what PM Sheh­baz said on the floor of the National Assembly regarding the Charter of Conciliation, stating that the responsibility to fix the country’s economy lies with everyone.

Another PML-N leader, Khawaja Saad Rafiq, also welcomed the meeting and said, “it was a step in the right direction”.

He emphasised that political opponents should continue to hold dialogues on key national issues.

However, a PTI leader, Hammad Azhar, said that Mr Gandapur’s meeting with the prime minister should not be considered an indication of “any compromise on the theft of Imran Khan’s or the public’s mandate”.

In a post on X, Mr Azhar said, “Firstly, Ali Amin would never do so and even if he does, he himself knows the emotions of the public and the party.

“Thousands of our people (workers) are currently unjustly imprisoned and half of the national and Punjab assemblies are fake,” he claimed. “This is no small matter,” he added.

Published in Dawn, March 15th, 2024

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