ISLAMABAD – PPP Core Committee Thursday night approved the draft of a tentative agreement reached with PML-N-led opposition parties for the unanimous passage of 20th constitutional amendment from the parliament.

Both President Asif Ali Zardari and Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani who co-chaired the meeting reiterated their party’s wish to continue the policy of reconciliation and consensus. Earlier in the day efforts at securing a full consensus on the 20th amendment bill did not bear fruit as the negotiating teams decided to meet again today with the hope to secure a complete agreement. Ch Nisar Ali Khan  leader of the negotiators from the opposition side and ruling PPP Federal Minister Syed Khurshid Shah separately told reporters that they had made progress and would resume the talks on Thursday (today) in a bid to cut a deal.

Khurshid said recommendations had come from both sides and the PPP leadership would be briefed about the same. However, it is possible that leadership of our party or of the opposition may not agree on these recommendations… Both the government and opposition would hold consultations with their respective leaderships,” he said, adding the matters will be finalised in a day or two.

In line with this approach, the core committee of Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) discussed and approved the points of agreement reached so far by party’s negotiators with the other side.

Federal Minister for Religious Affairs Syed Khurshid Shah briefed the party leaders on the negotiations with the opposition Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) for the smooth passage of the amendment and the proposals on which both sides agreed for making the interim setup neutral and independent, which would be made part of the amendment. He informed that it was agreed between the two sides that a parliamentary committee comprising members of the national assembly with equal strength from ruling and opposition sides would be made which would finalise the names for the interim setup to ensure its neutrality. The same procedure would be adopted for making interim setup at provincial level where the equal number of treasury and opposition members in the respective provincial assembly would appoint such a setup with consensus.

Syed Khurshid Shah also took the party leaders into confidence on other points which were agreed upon by the two sides, including the fixation of the term of provincial members of the Election Commission of Pakistan at five years instead of two years; the provincial members of the election commission would also take oath of their offices while the procedure of their removal from office before the expiry of their term would be the same as that of removal of the sitting judge of superior courts; agreement on not giving extension to the incumbent Chief Election Commissioner and appointment of the new Chief Election Commissioner completely in line with the procedure laid down for it in the 18th amendment; granting of powers to the parliamentary leader of any party to include or exclude the names from the list given by the party for reserved seats of women at any period of time during the tenure of the national assembly and concrete steps for making the election commission financially independent.

After the PPP leadership gave approval to these agreements, the draft would be put up before PML-N chief Nawaz Sharif so it could then culminate into a final accord after agreement on the remaining points too.

PPP core committee also deliberated on a host of other issues concerning the constitutional and legal matters while relations of the party with the coalition partners, the upcoming senate elections and party’s preparation for it also came under discussion.

Sources aware of the deliberations of the meeting informed The Nation that it was the consensus view of the party leadership that they would continue to follow the policy of reconciliation and consensus in the larger interest of the democratic institutions.

The party leadership expressed the resolve that those who wanted to see the clash between the institutions would be disappointed as PPP would not take hostile posture against any of the state institution and would fully comply with the Supreme Court of Pakistan’s decisions while remaining within the ambit of constitution.

It was further decided in the meeting that prime minister would appear before the apex court if asked and would fully comply with the dictates of the court.

Sources said that the upcoming senate elections also figured in the discussion and the party leadership was taken into confidence by party Co-Chairman Asif Ali Zardari regarding the seat adjustment and other dealing with the coalition partners in this connection, since the Prime Minister Gilani was out of the whole exercise as he was dealing with the other issues confronting the coalition government.

Sources further informed that it was also decided in the meeting that government should expedite the development projects and would focus on provision of relief to the masses as the party may go into general elections in the fall of the current year.

The party leadership also discussed the matters pertaining to party’s relations with the coalition partners and it was agreed that genuine concerns of the partners would be addressed keeping in view the mutual benefit and interests.

The party leadership expressed its resolve to go to the next general elections along with the coalition partners and expressed optimism that PPP and its allies would again form government in the country.

The party leaders who attended the meeting reposed their full confidence in the party leadership and their policies.

Prime Minister Gilani briefed the party leadership about his visit to Qatar and the successful negotiations held with the Qatari leadership for the mutual benefit of both the states.