ISLAMABAD - The government and Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf negotiations to resolve the political standoff dashed down with ruling party team members accepting their failure to convince PTI to step back from their demand of Prime Minister’s resignation.
Talking to media persons after the meeting Punjab Governor Ch Mohammad Sarwar, who was upbeat about the success of the negotiations before the start of the third round with PTI team at a local hotel, admitted the failure of talks but expressed the resolve to not giving up efforts to search for a negotiated settlement of the dispute.
Sources in the government said that the talks between the government and PTI had completely failed but the parties engaged in talks had not announced and left the venue saying that doors for dialogue were not closed yet and efforts would continue in this regard.
Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif spent busy day meeting with former president and Co-Chairman of Pakistan People’s Party Asif Ali Zardari at his residence in Riwind, Lahore, but he remained in constant touch with his negotiation team holding talks with PTI leaders. Sources said that he was giving them instructions and the members soon after the culmination of the third round gave him detailed report about their negotiations with PTI leaders.
Another government committee member, Ahsan Iqbal said that both sides had unanimity of views except on the issue of resignation of prime minister, the point, which resulted in the breakdown of talks. Ahsan minced no words while saying,” Resignation of prime minister is not on the negotiation table,” adding that government was ready to accept all the demands of the PTI remaining within the precincts of the constitution.
PTI negotiation team head Shah Mehmood Qureshi said they had shown a lot of flexibility and accepted the probe of elections rigging through judicial commission and asked the government to remove Premier Sharif from the post for one month, the period the commission would conduct the investigation into the rigging charges, but for the ego of one man the PML-N was ready to rock the boat of democracy.
He made it clear that they would not end their sit-in till the acceptance of their demands and regretted that despite showing a lot of flexibility the government remained unmoved showing their non-seriousness toward the negotiated settlement of the dispute.
The government’s committee comprised Ahsan Iqbal, Zahid Hamid, Abdul Qadir Baloch, Chaudhry Sarwar and Pervez Rashid while Shah Mehmood Qureshi, Javed Hashmi, Asad Umar, Jahangir Khan Tareen and Arif Alvi represented PTI’s panel during the third round.
Mocking the demand of resignation of PM without proof of rigging, Ahsan Iqbal said that first the Judicial Commission would examine the rigging charges of PTI and the demand of resignation would only be justified after the charges of rigging are proved.
He said government was also ready to accept the recommendations for reformation in the electoral system and offered that a sub-committee of experts should be formed to assist the Parliamentary Committee on Electoral Reforms so that its recommendations are comprehensive to ensure complete transparency in the future elections, a demand of all the political forces including the ruling Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz.
Rejecting the demand of PTI for resignation of prime minister for 30 days as unjust and unacceptable to the government, Ahsan and Abdul Qadir Baloch said that it is universal rule that a person is innocent unless proven guilty.
They said how the PM could resign when he has been elected by an overwhelming majority of the National Assembly and only recently all political parties sitting across the aisle adopted unanimous resolution urging him not to step down under pressure. They said the Senate of Pakistan, where PML-N is in minority, also passed a resolution opposing resignation of the prime minister and dissolution of the assemblies.
Shah Mehmood Qureshi said that though the PTI has accepted government’s proposal of Judicial Commission, the PM would have to resign to ensure an independent investigation into the rigging charges. He said a joint committee comprising representatives from different intelligence agencies should probe the poll rigging and the Judicial Commission complete its work within a month.
He denied the impression that the PTI had called for dissolution of assemblies. He said an electoral reforms committee had already been formed but another committee of experts should also be set up. He added that legislation could be introduced in the Parliament after recommendations of both the committees.
But on the other side the government team did not contacted Pakistan Awami Tehreek team for negotiations. Since getting input from the PAT team in the second round of talks, they never approached them again giving the impression that talks with Dr Qadri’s party too had entered a dead alley.
Leader of PAT team Raheek Abbasi said his party believed in political process therefore it intends to move forward the dialogue process for settling down the issues. He said their team has presented their demands before the government and now ball was in their court. He once again demanded justice in the Model Town tragedy and registration of FIR against the nominated persons.
The government committee, which had met the PAT leaders on Friday night, included MQM leader Haider Abbas Rizvi, Ahsan Iqbal, Abdul Qadir Baloch and Sardar Muhammad Yusuf. The PAT team comprised Raheek Abbasi, Khurram Nawaz Gandapur, Tariq Bashir Cheema and Hamid Raza.