PTI, govt agree on holding polls simultaneously, but deadlock over date persists
First two rounds went without anyone budging
ISLAMABAD (Dunya News) – The PTI and the PDM-led government walked away with agreement on holding elections on one day across the country without reaching a consensus on the date.
Finance Minister Ishaq Dar said both sides agreed that elections would be held on one day. "But, we could not reach a date for elections”, he added. Both sides agreed that elections will be held in the supervision of caretaker setup," he added.
Endorsed by PTI Vice Chairman Shah Mehmood Qureshi who, after concluding the talks, said the PTI showed flexibility by agreeing to the government’s suggestion of holding elections on one day. “But we could not agree for dissolution of assemblies and election date,” he added.
He went on to say that the PTI decided that it would appear before the court to apprise it of the proceedings and the flexibility it showed. “The PTI wants elections to be held on May 14 and no delay in KP elections,” he added.
He started off by saying that the PTI held three sittings for negotiations and tried to reach a consensus. “We agreed that political parties should endeavor to reach a consensus that will be beneficial for country and in line with the constitution,” he added.
He went on to say that we also agreed that negotiations should not be used as a delaying tactic. “Elections should be held in line with the constitution in letter and spirit,” he added.
We also agreed that If we agreed to something, we would have to make sure we implemented them.
Outlining the suggestion by both sides, he said we had proposed that election should be held within 90 days of the dissolution of the assemblies.
“On the other hand, PDM wants elections simultaneously including in Punjab and KP and on the completion of term of NA,” he added. We discussed at length, he said, tried to forge a consensus.
Mr Qureshi said the PTI concluded that it had wanted that NA, Balochistan and Sindh assemblies should be dissolved on or before May 14 adding that If that happened, elections should be held within 60 days. “To let that happen, one-off constitutional amendment should be constituted to steer out of the crisis,” he added.
He continued by saying that the PTI said that it would have a written agreement so that it could present it before the SC for the court to ensure its implementation. “Election should be transparent enough to accept their results,” he added.
Mr Qureshi said they tried their best at a time when the environment was disrupted by government aligned journalists. “Our 33 workers were arrested and Dar intervened to release them,” he added.
After concluding second sitting, he said, we got the news of raid on Parvez Elahi’s home adding that hide and seek of lodging cases against PTI leaders continued. “Javed Latif and Ahsan Iqbal’s remarks were not so encouraging,” he added.
Earlier, the schedule for the meeting had been modified to proceed talks at 9pm instead of 11am.
On April 28, as the second round of talks concluded with hopes of a thaw, the negotiators had said the third and final round would take place on Tuesday at 11am.
Negotiations come as the top court had recommended both sides to engage in dialogue to develop consensus besides warning the government that its order for holding polls on May 14 would be effective if both sides failed to reach an agreement.
Second Round of Talks
Earlier, sources had said the government did not seem to be agreeing to the PTI's demand of holding election in May as it was not possible to do so under tight economic conditions. "The government also cited its negotiations with the IMF," sources added.
Upon this, the PTI suggested the government to dissolve the National Assembly soon after presenting the budget, sources said. "It also suggested to announce the date of dissolution before presenting the budget," sources added.
However, if the PTI showed flexibility, the government could go for elections in August, sources told.
The PTI, on the other hand, hinted at agreeing to the demand of holding elections in August saying it sensed flexibility in the government's approach towards the matter, sources revealed.
The PTI put three conditions before the government; dissolve the NA and other provincial assemblies, amend the constitution to hold general elections simultaneously in the country that required the NA Speaker Raja Pervaiz Ashraf to take back the PTI MNA's resignations, and hold general elections in July, sources said.
Finance Minister Ishaq Dar said talks proceeded in a good environment. "We will put forward two suggestions placed by the PTI before the allies," he added. We saw improvement, he said, and no deadlock on both sides.
Mr Qureshi, speaking to the media after the meeting, said the meeting incepted with the mention of arrests of PTI activits. "We will travel to Lahore tomorrow and will take Mr Khan into confidence," he added.
PTI Senior Vice President Fawad Chaudhry said they had placed their suggestions before the government. "However, it is to be noted that 33 PTI activists at PTI chief Imran Khan's appearance before the IHC were arrested without any pliable reason," he added.
He went on to say that arrests would sabotage the process of negotiations. "If you want matters to settle, arrests must be stopped," he added. PTI leader Farrukh Habib, he said, was barred from travelling abroad.
Mr Khan, at an informal conversation with journalists during his appearance at the IHC, had said his party would initiate talks with the government only if the ruling coalition was ready to immediately dissolve the assemblies and go for elections.
First Round of Talks
The first round of talks was held at the Senate Secretariat where Shah Mahmood Qureshi, Fawad Chaudhry and Ali Zafar represented the PTI while the government side was represented by Mr Dar, Law Minister Azam Nazir Tarar, Railways Minister Khawaja Saad Rafique, Federal Minister for Economic Affairs Ayaz Sadiq, Mr Gilani, Commerce Minister Syed Naveed Qamar, Kishwar Zahra and Muhammad Abubakr.
Sources said the PTI had stressed dissolution of the NA as the PTI wanted the lower house to be dissolved no later than July.
Mr Qureshi, while speaking to the media, said political problems could be addressed with good intentions. "The solution will be sought by following the constitutional provisions," he added. The PTI wanted to move forward, he said, with country's progress as the topmost agenda.
He went on to say that the government still needed time to deliberate. "We suggested them to take time and come back with a proposal," he added.
Mr Gilani said, "We would take a final decision after taking all the parties on board," adding that talks were held, he said, in a good environment.
"We have to review the matters while remaining in the ambit of the constitution," he added. "We have no demands," said Mr Dar.
Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif had agreed to start talks with the PTI on Thursday.
Sources said Attorney General Mansoor Awan called on the PM and apprised him of the court proceedings. The JUI-F would not become a part of the negotiations, sources added.
Later, federal law minister Azam Nazir Tarar and Senator Ali Zafar had also come in contact with each other.