— Multi-party conference indefinitely postponed as prime minister departs to visit quake-hit Turkey
ISLAMABAD: Marriyum Aurangzeb, the information minister, Tuesday announced the government has postponed for a second time a multi-party conference convened to discuss the resurgence of violent attacks in Pakistan, this time for an indefinite period, as the prime minister is scheduled to travel to earthquake-hit Turkey on Wednesday.
Originally slated for February 7, the meeting was Tuesday rescheduled for Thursday, February 9. No reason was given for the change in the date.
Aurangzeb said Shehbaz Sharif will depart for Ankara to offer condolences and show support to President Erdogan and the people of Turkey following the earthquake that according to its head of disaster services, Yunus Sezer, killed at least 2,921 people and wounded more than 15,800 others.
The quake is believed to be the strongest to hit Turkey since 1939, when an earthquake of the same magnitude killed 30,000 people.
The minister announced that the postponed All Parties Conference (APC) will have a new date established after consulting with the ruling coalition, the Pakistan Democratic Movement (PDM).
وزیراعظم شہباز شریف کل صبح انقرہ روانہ ہوں گے، وہ صدر اردوان سے زلزلے کی تباہی، جانی نقصان پر افسوس اور تعزیت،ترکیہ کے عوام سے یک جہتی کریں گے۔ وزیراعظم کے دورہ ترکیہ کی وجہ سے جمعرات 9 فروری کو بلائی گئی اے پی سی مؤخر کی جا رہی ہے، اتحادیوں کی مشاورت سے نئی تاریخ کا اعلان ہوگا
— Marriyum Aurangzeb (@Marriyum_A) February 7, 2023
The conference aims to address important challenges facing Pakistan and will involve discussions on a joint strategy to combat terrorism and a review of the National Action Plan (NAP) adopted following the attack on Army Public School (APS) in Peshawar in 2014.
The prime minister has also extended an invitation to the opposition Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) party for the conference. Economic Affairs Minister Ayaz Sadiq reached out to its top leaders, including former National Assembly speaker Asad Qaiser and former defense minister Pervez Khattak, inviting them to the meeting.
However, PTI senior vice president Fawad Chaudhry claimed the party has not yet received a written invitation.
Pakistan is facing a resurgence of violent attacks, with analysts saying the government must immediately devise a strategy to counter the threat to internal security as the country heads into general elections.
The recent wave of militancy, combined with economic hardships, is the backdrop for the APC. On January 30, a mosque bombing in Peshawar resulted in the deaths of over 100 people, mostly police officers.
Additionally, foreign exchange reserves have declined to a low of $3.09 billion, which experts predict will not cover more than three weeks’ worth of imports.
The government is currently engaged in negotiations with the International Monetary Fund (IMF) for a stalled bailout program, which if successful, could also lead to the release of funds from other sources.