- Ishaq Dar and Ahsan Iqbal say govt has agreed to all substantive demands by PTI, PAT but it won’t submit to demands for PM’s resignation
- PTI’s Shah Mahmood Qureshi says they have presented six original demands to govt team
The negotiating teams of the government, Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) and Pakistan Awami Tehreek (PAT) resumed the dialogue process Friday but they failed to break the political impasse as the latter two stuck to their demands of resignation of Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, while the former claimed that it was willing to accept all demands of the protesting parties except the calls for Sharif’s resignation.
Speaking to reporters after the conclusion of Friday’s talks at the Convention Centre, PTI Vice Chairman Shah Mehmood Qureshi said his party had asked the government to offer an explanation over the position it took in parliament earlier in the day.
“The government’s response in the National Assembly was fallacious,” Qureshi said, adding that the difference in the versions of PTI and the government was reflective of the trust deficit prevailing between the two sides.
“However, we still went ahead with the meeting,” the PTI leader said, adding that the party’s delegates again briefed the government representatives about the six points that the party had originally laid out before it.
The meeting came hours after Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif and Interior Minister Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan rejected the impression that the government had sought the army’s help to mediate the deadlock in Islamabad.
Friday was also the first time that the government held joint talks with delegates from the PTI and Pakistan Awami Tehreek (PAT).
The dialogue as it began was being seen to have reached a definitive round especially after army chief General Raheel Sharif held separate meetings with Imran Khan and Tahirul Qadri late on Thursday night. However, the developments as they transpired have only given the impression of a continuing impasse.
For Friday’s round of discussions, the government’s committee was led by Ishaq Dar and included Pervaiz Rashid, Ahsan Iqbal, Abdul Qadir Baloch and Zahid Hamid. The PTI was represented by Asad Umar, Jahangir Tareen, Pervez Khattak, Shafqat Mahmood and Shah Mehmood Qureshi. The PAT had sent Khurram Gondal, Raheeq Abbasi and Sahibzada Hamid Raza from its side. Punjab Governor Chaudhry Muhammad Sarwar, who has been shuttling from his base to Karachi and Islamabad, had managed to reach the meeting some time after it began.
GOVT DIGS IN HEELS OVER RESIGNATION DEMAND:
Briefing reporters on the talks’ outcome, Finance Minister Ishaq Dar said that Prime Minister Sharif’s resignation was out of question.
He said that the PAT delegation had demanded the FIR registration of the Model Town incident which had already been done. “PAT’s FIR is exactly what their lawyers had given to the police. If there is some issue it can be rectified,” he said, adding that PAT had also demanded the formation of a new judicial commission to investigate the Model Town incident.
“All the reforms agenda formulated by PAT will be considered and the government will look into the options whether such changes could be brought through some constitutional amendments or an executive order,” said Ishaq Dar.
Reiterating the government’s resolve not to bow to the demands for the PM’s resignation, the finance minister said such demands were unreasonable and could not be entertained.
“We have said the same about Punjab Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif that he will only resign if he is proven guilty by courts,” said Dar.
Addressing reporters, Federal Minister for Planning and Development Ahsan Iqbal said that all the substantive demands of PTI and PAT have already been accepted by the government.
“Insisting on resignations means that PTI and PAT do not want the talks to move further,” he said.
Responding to questions regarding a tweet by the director general of the Inter-Services Public Relations (ISPR), Dar said that clarification regarding ISPR DG’s tweet had already been given by Interior Minister Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan.
“The prime minister had explained the issue in detail in the National Assembly,” he said, lamenting that Imran Khan and Tahirul Qadri were using the words ‘mediator’, ‘guarantor’ and ‘arbitrator’ while army had just been asked to play the role of a ‘facilitator’.
He said that DG ISPR’s statement was exactly in accordance with statements given by Prime Minister Sharif and Interior Minister Nisar in the National Assembly.