LAHORE - Putting full weight behind the ruling Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz, Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) on Saturday agreed to support the democratic system and accept only such solution to the current political crisis as is in line with the constitution, law and the parliamentary system.
The PPP rejected the major demand of the protesting PTI and the PAT for the resignation of Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif terming it one that can weaken the state. It also rejected the demand for mid-term polls and expressed resolve to foil conspiracies against democracy and the elected government.
The PPP agreed not to let the system be derailed with the help of other parties and called for meeting the PTI demands regarding vote verification of the last elections, electoral reforms and reframing of the election commission through the Supreme Court Commission and the Parliamentary Committee for the electoral reforms.
The PPP and the PML-N have resolved to close ranks with other parties and stand shoulder to shoulder to defend the government, the democracy and the system. They have also allowed other parties in the parliament to put up efforts to resolve the crisis through discussion with the PTI and the PAT however made it clear that only such solution would be acknowledged as meets demands of the constitution and the principles of democracy.
Former President and PPP Co-Chairman Asif Ali Zardari met the prime minister at a luncheon at Raiwind on Saturday. Mr Zardari was assisted by Leader of the Opposition in National Assembly Syed Khursheed Shah, former Interior Rehman Malik, Senator Raza Rabbani and Senator Aitzaz Ahmad. Federal Finance Minister Muhammad Ishaq Dar, Water and Power Minister Khwaja Asif, Railways Minister Kh Saad Rafiq and State Minister for Frontier Region Abdul Qadir Baloch participated in the meeting from the government.
During the delegation-level meeting at Raiwind, PPP and the PML-N in two rounds discussed threadbare the current political situation with special reference to the ongoing sit-in at Red Zone and repercussions of the situation on the national economy.
Zardari while extending support to the government said his party would resist any attempt to forcibly and extra-constitutionally wrest the public mandate given to Nawaz Sharif’s party to rule for five years. He said the PPP has long record of sustaining democracy through sacrifices and it will adhere to its past stand this time too.
Nawaz thanked Zardari for lending support at a hard time as well as for upholding supremacy of the constitution and parliament. He said the government wants strengthening of the democratic institutions and desires all issues to be resolved through consensus and talks which he added, has been a consistent policy of his party.
The PM said no crisis can overtake if all political parties get united. Zardari recognised right of protest of the political parties but said it must be peaceful. Nawaz said country would not be let go adrift to instability and decisions would be taken in view of the national interest and the regional situation.
Later, appearing before the media Ishaq Dar, Khwaja Asif and Saad Rafiq gave briefing on the meeting. Dar said PPP has strong commitment with democracy and the system as such it would not let it to be derailed. He said in the larger national interest prime minister exhibited tremendous flexibility right from the proceeding of the march up to its stay at D-Chowk and later at Red Zone.
The finance minister said Pakistan is up against serious economic challenges due to the protest march which, he added, has pushed the country many months behind in progress. He said two foreign presidents have called off visit to Pakistan while IMF has canalled review meeting and development projects are suffering delay.
Dar asked the PTI to show flexibility in the larger interest of the state. He said to a question that resignation of the prime minister was out of question and ex-president also supported this view in the meeting. He said the SC commission will look into the allegations levelled by the PTI about rigging and it would also address PML-N grouse about the election. He said they also agree to revamp ECP and bring electoral reforms as per the constitution and law. Kh Asif said that Zardari termed demand for the PM resignation tantamount to weakening the state.