PML-N, PPP invite PTI to ‘meaningful’ talks

Acting president Gilani, Planning Minister Iqbal urge opposition to shun street protests

Our Correspondent May 27, 2024


The Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) and the Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP), two major components of the ruling coalition, have invited the opposition Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) to abandon street protests and engage in political dialogue with the government.

Acting President Yousuf Raza Gilani and Planning Minister Ahsan Iqbal both emphasized the government's openness to talks, but stressed that the PTI must decide with whom it wants to negotiate.

Speaking separately to the media, Gilani, in Lahore, reiterated the government's willingness to negotiate. However, he noted that the PTI seems intent on negotiating with someone else. “The PTI wants to carve its path by confronting the establishment and the government in court,” he remarked.

“[Our] doors are open for meaningful talks but the PTI will have to decide with whom they wanted to negotiate,” said Gilani. He emphasised that the country currently suffered instability, therefore, all political leaders must come on the same page.

The acting president recalled that during their time in opposition under the PTI-led government, they were willing to engage in political talks, despite the PTI's reluctance to do the same even while in power.

In response to a question, Gilani emphasized that the PPP remains committed to supporting the current government, noting that internal consultations are ongoing regarding their potential involvement in the cabinet. “The PPP has never indicated that it is not part of the government; we are aligned with the government in all matters,” he told reporters.

He further explained, “Consultations within the party are underway regarding joining the ministries. Following these discussions, a decision will be made about participating in the cabinet at both the Centre and in Punjab.” Gilani reiterated, “The Pakistan Peoples Party is part of the government and supports it in all endeavors.”

In response to another question regarding the defamation bill, Gilani said that there had been a detailed discussion with Bilawal Bhutto Zardari in this regard. Bilawal, he added, had gone to meet President Asif Zardari, and when he returned, he would give his action plan.

However, the acting president emphasised that concerns of journalists regarding the defamation bill, recently passed by the Punjab Assembly, should be removed. He refrained from responding to a query about judiciary-establishment differences. He also said that people should get relief in the budget.

Meanwhile, speaking to the media after distributing laptops among students at the University of Narowal, Planning Minister Ahsan Iqbal said that the government’s doors were open to all parties for purposeful and meaningful negotiations.

“The PTI is in the government in Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa (K-P) and they should serve the people there. I advise the PTI leadership to shun streets [protests] and enter the [parliamentary] houses to play a positive role as opposition,” he added.

In the same breath, the minister criticised the PTI, saying that the party wanted to use the courts after being defeated in politics. “The PTI wants to make its way by fighting the establishment and the government in the court,” he charged.

He claimed that there was uncertainty in the country because of a court decision. “Our doors are open to all parties for purposeful and meaningful negotiations but purposeful and meaningful negotiations can only happen when the parties negotiate with a positive agenda,” he said.

The minister also said that the nation could never forgive the events of May 9. He expressed the hope that the next five years would save the economy from political confrontation. He stressed that there should not be the game of rallies anymore rather “we should compete for public service”.

The planning minister stressed that the country’s economy was headed in the right direction as the stock market index had crossed the 76,000 mark. “This shows strong confidence of foreign and domestic investors in the policies of the government,” he said.

“We have given around 1 million laptops to youth and a politician made fun of us. But today, Pakistan is the third largest free-lancing country in the world. We want to give the youth a digital platform that can be used to make this country one of the top 10 economies of the world on its 100th birthday.”

Earlier, Iqbal told the ceremony that an incompetent government was imposed on the country through rigged elections in 2018. “The country is suffering after it was handed over to an incompetent politician. Due to his hate-based policies, Pakistan suffered internal unrest and extremism,” he said.

“Instead of promoting a culture of abuses and hate, we are providing modern higher education, digital training and equal employment opportunities to the youth. The current government has changed the direction of the country and there is stability and improvement in every sector,” he said.


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