ISLAMABAD: The government’s negotiating committee on Tuesday decided to hold separate meetings with leaders of opposition parties, including Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam-Fazl (JUI-F) chief Maulana Fazlur Rehman, Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) President Shehbaz Sharif and Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) Chairman Bilawal Bhutto Zardari, to hold talks on the ‘Azadi march’.
Sources said the committee met at the Presidency under the chairmanship of Defence Minister Pervez Khattak. Other members of the body, acting President of Pakistan and Senate Chairman Sadiq Sanjrani, National Assembly Speaker Asad Qaiser, Education Minister Shafqat Mehmood, Religious Affairs Minister Noorul Haq Qadri and Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) leader Asad Umar, were present at the meeting.
The participants of the meeting discussed the opposition parties’ demands. They reiterated that the opposition’s demand for Prime Minister Imran Khan’s resignation was out of the question.
The committee recognised the opposition parties’ right to hold a peaceful protest but noted that the situation in Kashmir as well as internal and regional challenges did not allow for an anti-government movement at this time.
Khattak said the government was serious about sorting out issues with the opposition. “Hopefully, the opposition parties will opt for the democratic way and come to an agreement through talks,” he added.
The committee will schedule meetings with opposition leaders on Wednesday (today).
There are reports that the government’s negotiating team earlier contacted the joint opposition’s Rahbar Committee, which conveyed their demands to the other side.
Besides, JUI-F’s Senator Talha Mehmood, who was among the four party members assigned the task of negotiating with the government before Fazl mandated the opposition’s Rahbar Committee to decide on the matter, called on Sanjrani on Tuesday – an indication that members of the negotiating team are using their personal rapport to settle the matter.
The JUI-F plans to march on Islamabad on October 31 with the backing of the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N), Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) and other opposition parties, demanding the resignation of the prime minister and fresh elections.
The opposition parties have announced that they would hold a rally outside Islamabad’s National Press Club on October 27 to express solidarity with Kashmiris.
After an all parties (APC) meeting attended by district-level leaders of opposition parties, JUI-F’s Maulana Abdul Majeed Hazarvi told the media that the participants of the ‘Azadi march’ would stage a sit-in in Islamabad on October 31 and would not leave until the prime minister’s resignation. However, the opposition leaders clarified that there would be no sit-in on October 27.
The APC was hosted by PML-N’s Tariq Fazal Chaudhry. He told reporters that the Islamabad administration did not need to arrest activists of opposition parties as the rally on October 31 would be peaceful.
PPP leader Sibt-e-Hasan Bukhari demanded that his party’s co-chairperson Asif Ali Zardari and PML-N supreme leader Nawaz Sharif be provided with the medical facilities they required.