Govt, PML-N to kick off formal talks on interim set-up

Published: August 15, 2012
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Parties to discuss choosing members of caretaker government. PHOTO: AFP/ APP

Parties to discuss choosing members of caretaker government. PHOTO: AFP/ APP

ISLAMABAD: 

Immediately after Eid, the government and Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) are expected to open formal talks for choosing members of a caretaker setup to hold general elections.

Officials in the governing Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) and the main opposition party told The Express Tribune on Monday the negotiations were part of an overall understanding on a broader timeframe for a political transition.

According to a tacit understanding, say sources, the ruling and opposition parties had agreed to a transfer of power to an interim government comprising neutral politicians and some apolitical technocrats by early November this year.

The caretaker government will then hold parliamentary polls within two-and-a-half months of coming to power. Under Pakistan’s Constitution, the interim setup is bound to hold elections within 90 days of taking the office.

Sources in both parties said the timeframe was agreed upon between PPP and PML-N leadership last month when Prime Minister Raja Pervaiz Ashraf talked to Opposition Leader in the National Assembly Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan.

A spokesperson for the PML-N confirmed the premier and the opposition leader spoke to each other over the phone and agreed on a tentative timeframe for a transition.

“Yes, what I can tell you at the moment is that the government has extended an invitation for formal talks and we are positively thinking about entering into dialogue,” said Senator Mushahidullah Khan, the PML-N information secretary.

“We are ready and (we are) going to begin negotiations with the opposition,” PPP leader and opposition leader in the Punjab Assembly Raja Riaz also confirmed.

PML-N Deputy Information Secretary Engineer Khurram Dastgir Khan was more explicit in offering his party’s point of view on the proposed formal talks.

“We want to remove all the hurdles and impediments in the way of holding free, fair and transparent elections … and we want everything to be within the parameters of the Constitution and law,” he said.

A constitutional amendment the parliament passed early in the year envisages a mechanism for bringing in an interim setup through consultation between the prime minister and the National Assembly opposition leader.

Last month, the government and opposition exchanged key proposals to mark the beginning of crucial talks to kick-start the process for selecting leaders for an interim administration.

Insiders said the telephone conversation between the premier and the opposition leader was the culmination of months of dialogue behind closed doors between negotiators from both sides.

According to sources on both sides, Prime Minister Ashraf also spoke to PML-N chief Nawaz Sharif before the latter flew to Saudi Arabia last week to spend the last 10 days of Ramazan with his family.

Both Mushahidullah Khan and Raja Riaz, however, did not confirm the contact between the incumbent and former premiers.

On another front, some officials said Nawaz’s visit to Saudi Arabia was partly aimed at holding talks with the kingdom’s top leaders, considered key players in Pakistani politics.

In the meanwhile, President Asif Ali Zardari will also travel to Saudi Arabia this week for a summit of Islamic countries. He is also scheduled to hold bilateral talks with King Abdullah.

Officials in the PPP said the focus of talks between the president and the king may be the interim setup.

Published in The Express Tribune, August 15th, 2012.

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Reader Comments (15)

  • Sheharyar
    Aug 15, 2012 - 9:41AM

    Officials in the PPP said the focus of talks between the president and the king may be the interim setup –> Saudia Arabia k baad USA se bhi approval lena hoga!! Sovereign state?!?

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  • khalid
    Aug 15, 2012 - 9:43AM

    Ustad Zardari once again will take Naive Nawaz for a ride…PML-N deserves it

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  • Abid Jadoon
    Aug 15, 2012 - 9:44AM

    Hope there is some thing in these talks for a common man.

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  • Mirza
    Aug 15, 2012 - 9:45AM

    Way to go, kudos to the elected leaders of the county to have elections first time under a neutral and mutually agreed setup. Roshan kahin bahar ke imkan huye to hain.

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  • khalid
    Aug 15, 2012 - 9:47AM

    Yes our destiny and fate is decided by the Saudi Kings and American Presidents, that is why for the last 60 yrs the people of Pakistan are suffering.

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  • Nasir Mahmood
    Aug 15, 2012 - 10:15AM

    20th amendment was opposition’s success to bring a neutral caretaker set up to hold free and fair elections. Hope the nation will respond by electing honest and literate people.

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  • Humayun
    Aug 15, 2012 - 10:39AM

    It will be a “Muk Muka” … Eik bari aap, Eik bari Hum

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  • Reasonable
    Aug 15, 2012 - 11:02AM

    An impatient fielding team finally rejoicing for the toss to bat again. Little do they know this is no longer a 2 team match and another Captain is in for the next innings :)

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  • Ahmer Ali
    Aug 15, 2012 - 11:46AM

    Whatever happens in these formal talks for interim setup for next general elections but please never forget it that “free,fair and transparent elections is only a “wishful thinking”……..Recommend

  • Nadeem
    Aug 15, 2012 - 1:29PM

    What a shame that the matters of Pakistan are discussed and resolved abroad. Can’t we resolve our own issues without intervention of Saudis?

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  • asim
    Aug 15, 2012 - 2:52PM

    Due to their ill policies pakistanis are suffering at home and abroad. Once again they want to come into power in the name of democracy.

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  • shahid
    Aug 15, 2012 - 2:54PM

    Can’t we resolve our own issues without intervention of Saudis?

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  • MAC
    Aug 15, 2012 - 3:26PM

    This is how democracy is supposed to work; instead of appreciating the government and opposition’s desire to agree on the basic rules governing next elections, some demagogues want us to revert back to Pakistan of the 1990s when parties cut each other’s roots. They tend to forget these steps will empower the electorate (plenty of which have and will vote for the PMLs, PPP, ANP and MQM); without this cooperation, political parties both inside and outside parliament would not have a fair chance at power. As for the intervention of the Saudis, this is a reality even powerful countries aren’t immune from; where is the surprise element? Plenty of countries have their interests in Pakistan, each and every party in Pakistan lobbies abroad for support as well. If a cancer hospital cannot be run without generous donations from ex-pats, can governments be run on air?

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  • Farrukh Zain
    Aug 15, 2012 - 4:21PM

    @Abid Jadoon:
    Keep on hoping……

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  • major-ji
    Aug 15, 2012 - 6:25PM

    So king Abdullah of KSA is actual kingmaker for Pakisatn also. Understood. Giving hand remains always upper hand.

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