ISLAMABAD - The loud signals of breakthrough in parleys coming from both PML-N and PTI teams have started turning feeble. Instead, louder and harsher voices of the leadership from both sides have started putting the blame of deadlock on each other.

Sources aware of the deliberations between the two sides for the last time almost a week ago informed The Nation that both sides were poles apart on the definition of rigging and the terms of reference of the proposed judicial commission, with both sides having unflinching stand on their declared positions on the contentious points.

Frustration was visible on the face of PTI negotiating team head Shah Mahmood Qureshi while he was saying that the talks with the government were over and now it was time for action on their part.

On the other side, Finance Minister Ishaq Dar, heading the government team, also avoided media questions after the last encounter with the PTI team, saying that they had final word on the contentious issues with PTI and would respond after having input of their party and other Parliamentary parties.

Since then, the government team has not contacted the PTI team, a source in the PTI said, admitting serious differences on terms of reference and definition of rigging between the two sides.

For the first time admitting the differences in public, Federal Minister for Planning and Development Ahsan Iqbal said they could not agree to anything contrary to the Constitution in formation of the judicial commission for probing the alleged rigging charges.

Further elaborating his point, he said they had disagreement with the PTI team on legal instruments of judicial commission formation and some other related matters.

Ahsan Iqbal said, “Government is ready to form judicial commission within 24 hours but PTI’s legal team insists on some instruments which are contrary to the Constitution.”

PTI Chairman Imran Khan a couple of days back had given a fresh deadline of Jan 18 for constitution of judicial commission and probing into the alleged rigging in 2013 general elections, warning that otherwise he would announce his future protest plan in a public gathering at D-Chowk on the 18th of this month.

Sources in the government confirmed to The Nation that they had no objection on constitution of the vote probe commission through presidential ordinance, but admitted there were wide differences with the Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) on terms of reference and mandate of the proposed commission as well as the definition of rigging and its mode of examination.

The sources further said that PML-N team had proposed that the matter like acquiring the services of any department or constitution of joint investigation team (JIT) for assistance in probing the rigging charges in 2013 general elections should be left to the discretion of the judicial commission. But the PTI team had been demanding a joint investigation team comprising the officers of repute from ISI, IB, FIA, Nadra and other relevant departments.

On the issue of deadline of 30 or 45 days to be given to the commission to complete the task as insisted by the PTI, again PML-N negotiators wanted to leave the matter to the discretion of the commission whose members themselves should decide how much time they would be requiring for completion of the tedious task assigned to them.

Sources further said that the ruling PML-N would not oppose if the PTI would share with other political parties the details of the agreement reached with the government, as this time main opposition parties in the parliament including Awami National Party and Pakistan People’s Party had give tacit assurance to PTI Chairman Imran Khan on constitution of the judicial commission after which he (Imran) decided to call off his 120 days long sit-in from D-Chowk.

PTI sources also said that trust deficit between the two sides was very much there and despite assurances from various quarters, the PTI wanted backing of mainstream political parties on any eventual agreement with the government.

Sources aware of the last couple of interactions between the two sides said that now the PTI had conceded a lot in their demands during the course of negotiations with the ruling PML-N including withdrawal of PM’s resignation demand to take the matter to its logical conclusion.

Previously too, before the breakup of the negotiations, the main difference between the two sides was on the definition of the rigging; whereas, on the constitution of commission, there was procedural difference between them. The PTI wanted its constitution through an ordinance while PML-N side insisted it should be made through an act of parliament in consultation with other parliamentary parties.

On the definition of rigging, the PTI wanted sample audit of 30 constituencies of its choice while PML-N wanted the judicial commission to examine whether there was some planned and systematic rigging to steal the mandate of some particular party and was there any planned role of any particular party in doing so in connivance with the superior judiciary and the Election Commission of Pakistan. The PML-N team argued that the audit of just 30 National Assembly constituencies could not be reflective of the results of 272 constituencies.