Secret election schedule talks between PPP, PML-N stall

Published: January 23, 2012

Bone of contention is whether the poll will be held before or after the budget. PHOTO: ONLINE/ FILE

ISLAMABAD: 

Secret talks between the government and the main opposition party to finalise the schedule for fresh parliamentary elections later this year have stalled over whether the key announcement should be made before or after the budget, which is due in June.

Interlocutors from the ruling Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) are insisting that the announcement must be made after the incumbent government presents what they said would be an incentive-laden budget, with polls to be held in October.

Countering that position, negotiators representing the opposition Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) are pushing the embattled administration to call snap elections in March immediately after polls for half of the Senate seats.

“We are stuck on this point. Both groups are adamant on their demand and it looks like the agreement may take more time than we initially anticipated,” said a top PPP leader.

Both sides, however, were confident that they could overcome the differences on the most important point to pave the way for a smooth run-up to the elections, which are being seen as a test case for the country’s politicians to save the democratic system from what they fear are threats from a ‘hidden force’.

Top leaders from the two largest parties entered late last year into what they called ‘conciliatory’ negotiations after signs appeared that the powerful military might be supporting groups hostile to both of them.

Their main fear was what appeared to be an unprecedentedly rapid rise of Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) of cricketer-turned-politician Imran Khan as a ‘third force’ on the country’s political horizon which was dominated by the PPP and PML-N in the 1990s.

It was reported earlier in the month that both sides are holding behind-the-scene negotiations through interlocutors appointed by President Asif Ali Zardari and PML-N chief Nawaz Sharif and they had agreed on four out of six point of what they called a smooth democratic transition to elections.

None of the parties, however, publicly admit to the talks, which are reportedly taking place in Islamabad and Lahore and regularly monitored not only by Zardari and Sharif but also by Prime Minister Yousaf Raza Gilani.

According to media reports, Gilani will soon be holding direct interaction with Nawaz Sharif to seal the deal once a roadmap is prepared by negotiators. A spokesperson for the premier, however, denied this.

“I’m not aware of any such thing planned,” said Akram Shaheedi, an information department official who deals with media on behalf of Gilani.

But the premier himself dropped a strong hint on what experts believed was going to be a pro-people budget, containing many concessions for the ‘downtrodden masses’ who have suffered at the hands of multiple crises since the PPP took over back in 2008.

“We will overcome the energy shortage in six months … the people will start having the benefits our economic policies soon,” the premier told the media in Lahore last week, giving an idea of how the PPP was planning to take advantage of the incumbency for elections.

On the other hand, a spokesperson for the PML-N told The Express Tribune it would be a totally ‘political budget’ if the PPP government presents it with the parliamentary polls in the mind.

“This,” said Senator Mushahidullah Khan, the information secretary of the PML-N, “will be a situation we will never like.”

He, however, said his party believed the Zardari-Gilani administration won’t survive the current standoff with the judiciary and the military in the form of contempt case against the premier and Memogate scandal.

Published in The Express Tribune, January 23rd,  2012.

Reader Comments (18)

  • dr saif ur rehman
    Jan 23, 2012 - 10:00AM

    Good development. All political forces need to dialogue with each other for strengthening democracy.

    Recommend

  • RKM
    Jan 23, 2012 - 10:08AM

    After reading any news item which includes the word “secret talks” between these two parties. I, the voter, FEEL USED.Recommend

  • fahd
    Jan 23, 2012 - 10:13AM

    noora kushti starts again. as imran khan said, they will come together to stop pti. both exposed again.

    Recommend

  • atif
    Jan 23, 2012 - 10:18AM

    secret negotiations, engineered elections. this is our “democracy”. shame

    Recommend

  • Common citizen
    Jan 23, 2012 - 10:42AM

    dialogue not for democracy but to pass on power,,, as PTI is emerging..

    Recommend

  • Kamran
    Jan 23, 2012 - 10:58AM

    Very good development … We need a smooth transition from Civil to Civil Govt , I hope it materializes with consent from both sides.

    Recommend

  • Jan 23, 2012 - 11:23AM

    ….And Imran khan proved right, again!

    Recommend

  • nad
    Jan 23, 2012 - 12:02PM

    Seriously, one of the biggest reason I would vote for imran khan is because he seems so natural and honest in his interviews unlike other 2 parties who seem so phony.
    Recommend

  • Tariq
    Jan 23, 2012 - 12:11PM

    enough is enough wake up Pakistan, these parties can’t be trusted any more !!!

    Recommend

  • yaz
    Jan 23, 2012 - 12:19PM

    Why is it that whatever ImranKhan says comes true. No kidding!!

    Recommend

  • LIAQAT ALI
    Jan 23, 2012 - 12:25PM

    I am IK supporter and will vote for his party but Iam not core ,read, blind supporter. So I DO HAVE QUESTION FOR HIS CORE SUPPORTERS;

    Why in the world , IK is not joining the call to hold elections as soon as possible while he kept calling for mid term elections before his Jalsa in Lahore? Why is he being not party to getting rid of the Govt which is costing the country Billions of Rupees every month because of corruption and in efficiciency? If he is playing politics and seeking gains only for his party in a delayed elections, then can he be considered as sincere as his core supportes like us to believe?

    Recommend

  • Jan 23, 2012 - 12:55PM

    Loved the quotation marks on “third force”

    Recommend

  • Jan 23, 2012 - 6:35PM

    What Say, Pakistan???

    Recommend

  • khurshid
    Jan 23, 2012 - 6:49PM

    Why are some people upset if PPP and PML(N) are holding talks on when to hold the elections? It is a prerogative of an incumbant givt to decide the timing. The constitution requires them to consult the leader of opposition about the details. The leader of opposition happens to be the PML(N) Nisar. Why do we need to scandalize every action of politicians even those which are taken for granted even in well developed democracies?Recommend

  • Blithe
    Jan 23, 2012 - 8:09PM

    @khurshid:
    Because the PTI juveniles have no idea and
    no sense!

    Recommend

  • Ishrat Salim
    Jan 23, 2012 - 8:48PM

    @ Blithe….no u r wrong again becuase u guys do not analyse the ground realities…thse 2 political parties fear the rising popularity of PTI & their nora kushti has been exposed….they know that they will loose seats to PTI…..

    Recommend

  • logic europe
    Jan 24, 2012 - 2:15AM

    PTI aaye aur gayee

    Recommend

  • logic europe
    Jan 24, 2012 - 2:20AM

    sure as light of the day IMRAN KHAN WILL BOYCOTT ELECTIONS AS HIS SUPPORTERSMARE WEAKNED

    Recommend

More in Pakistan