LAHORE - The government said in very categorical terms on Sunday that it would not go for recount of votes in four constituencies identified by the PTI, leaving it to Imran Khan to go ahead with his protest programme.

Federal Information Minister Pervaiz Rasheed talking to The Nation about PTI’s planned Azadi (Freedom) March and recount demand said, “There is a system in place to seek remedy against the alleged rigging and the government cannot play any role in it. We can’t open any constituency for recount as it is not in power.”

“However, we will welcome PTI (Pakistan Tehrik-i-Insaf) for its launch of ‘Quick March’ on August 14.” He said the PTI will launch its march on August 14 which would finish soon, as he revealed that “some veteran opposition leaders convinced the PTI to launch a quick march rather than a long march to save the system and their party’s reputation, which I think PTI’s senior leaders understand”.

About the civil-military relations, the government spokesman insisted they were going very well and there were no differences on the issue of Pervez Musharraf between the two sides, adding that “Musharraf would get his freedom through court of law and the government has nothing to do with it”.

With the take of government on the opposition parties’ preparations for launching anti-government drive in the month of August, efforts are underway to bring PTI and PAT on a single platform, besides getting the support of the PPP to dislodge the incumbent rulers. According to PML-Q sources, party chief Chaudhary Shujaat Hussain and Punjab president Chaudhary Pervaiz Elahi reached Dubai for a possible meeting with PPP de facto boss Asif Ali Zardari. Zardari who is in London can reach Dubai anytime.

Chaudhrys of Gujrat were making efforts since long to bring major opposition parties including PTI and PPP at a single platform along with PAT and JUI-F to launch a massive campaign against the government. Chaudhrys in their expected meeting with the former president would try to persuade him to extend his active support to other opposition parties to send the government home under the demand of midterm polls.

The situation seems to be conducive to send the government packing in view its falling popularity graph. The incumbent rulers may not be able to come back to power in midterm elections, if PPP joins hands with other mainstream opposition parties for a massive anti-government drive.

Raja Basharat, PML-Q senior leader and close aide of party high command, when contacted avoided giving a direct comment, saying that “Chaudhry Pervaiz Elahi along with Chaudhry Shujaat Hussain are in Dubai for the medical check-up of party chief and PML-Q top leadership can meet with PPP top leader if he (Asif Zardari) arrives in Dubai.”

PML-Q central spokesman Senator Kamil Ali Agha had earlier told The Nation, “Chaudhry Shujaat and Pervaiz Elahi would soon meet the PPP top leadership as part of their efforts to form a larger opposition coalition. The PML-Q high command can go abroad as well to meet Asif Zardari if former president would not be available in the country.”

When asked about the possible results of such meetings, Pervaiz Rasheed said: The days of Chaudhrys’ politics who depend on backdoor channels to grab power are over. They (Chaudhrys) are trying to keep themselves alive and relevant in the political arena sometimes through Dr Tahirul Qadri and sometimes through Asif Zardari.

Meanwhile, Dr Raheeq Abbasi, PAT senior leader and close aide of Dr Qadri, when reached to know about the possibilities of his party’s joining hands with PTI, said: Yes there are possibilities that we two can go together, however things on this count could take a shape when PAT decides the schedule for its Revolution March. At the moment, there is no such understanding in place.

He said, “Though PAT and PTI have different programmes for their marches, Imran Khan’s demand for the audit of the entire process of 2013 polls instead of four constituencies is a position which may become a point of common ground between the two parties vying for a real change in the country.”

PTI vice chairman Shah Mehmood Qureshi, when called, said, “So far PTI is going to launch a solo march on August 14 but the possibilities of convergence between PTI and PAT cannot be ruled out.” He added: We will launch Azadi March on August 14 and welcome all the political forces who will join us.

APP adds: Talking to a private TV channel, Pervaiz Rashid said "The PML-N makes decisions after thorough delibrations and then sticks to them." In this connection, he cited examples of PML-N's stance on restoration of judiciary, opposing the idea of indemnity to a former dictator, and conducting nuclear tests in 1998 despite international pressure.

To a question, he said the government was not supporting any media group, rather it was trying to ensure that the media freedom achieved after long struggle, was not affected anyway.

The government fully supported freedom of expression and would like to strengthen that freedom in due course of time, he said, adding that it wanted to make PEMRA an independent regulator of media.

Regarding senior PML-N leader Ahsan Iqbal's statement about the present government's problems due to Pervez Musharraf's trial, he said Chaudhrys of Gujrat, Imran Khan, Tahirul Qadri and Sheikh Rashid were also annoyed and offended by this decision. The government only followed the superior court orders on Musahrraf's trial. It believed in letting the law to take its course and would not become a hurdle in its due process, he added.