The Pakistan Peoples Party’s top leadership has decided to initiate formal negotiations with the opposition for an interim government to supervise the upcoming general elections, but not before it implements an ‘emergency’ programme to revive the troubled economy.
Key leaders of the ruling party discussed political developments in light of the increasing pressure from the Supreme Court and other ‘powerful quarters’ at a late night huddle on Tuesday with President Asif Ali Zardari.
Though details of the meeting held at the presidency have not been made public, a close aide of the president told The Express Tribune ‘pro-active’ decisions were on the cards.
“We need to take the lead now … we will have to take the initiative. We will now be taking decisions of our liking instead of the ones others are trying to enforce upon us,” a participant of the meeting quoted the president as saying in an apparent retort to the Supreme Court’s recent rulings.
The meeting comes in the wake of media reports suggesting talks between the PML-N and PPP are already under way to bring in a caretaker set-up.
Reports published earlier in the week said both parties have exchanged key proposals through informal channels.
Leaders from both parties have also told journalists there is a tacit understanding between them to hold parliamentary elections within this year.
Reports over the weekend hinted that PPP and PML-N had agreed on a roadmap for the transition, of which the premier was expected to divulge details on August 14. Under the proposed plan, both have agreed to hold the general elections sometime in November this year.
The leaders, however, told The Express Tribune they were a ‘long way’ from sitting across each other at a negotiating table.
The opposition and PPP have already reached a consensus on the appointment of Fakhruddin G Ebrahim as the chief election commissioner. Though the appointment is not related to negotiations regarding the transfer of power, experts believe it does have conciliatory implications.
Earlier in the meeting, Prime Minister Raja Pervaiz Ashraf briefed the meeting about the country’s energy situation and his recent visit to Saudi Arabia, stated a handout issued by the presidency’s media cell.
Raja said the energy situation was improving steadily and the government was taking all possible steps to address the present crisis.
Another issue said to be a key point of deliberation in the meeting is the next hearing of the National Reconciliation Ordinance (NRO) case in the Supreme Court on July 25.
A five-member bench in the last hearing held on July 12 gave Prime Minister Raja Pervaiz Ashraf till July 25 to write a letter to Swiss authorities to open dormant graft cases against the president.
The court has already disqualified Raja’s predecessor Yousaf Raza Gilani and while it is not immediately clear what the PPP intends to do, sources said the party’s legal wizards are planning to file a review petition against the Supreme Court’s latest directives.
Published in The Express Tribune, July 18th, 2012.
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