Negotiators from the government and the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) agreed on all but two sticking points as they met twice on Monday in a bid to break a debilitating political deadlock persisting since August 14.
“We have agreed on almost everything. Only two contentious issues remain. One of them is not negotiable for us,” Finance Minister Ishaq Dar, who is heading the government negotiating team, told journalists after a second round of talks late Monday.
Although Dar didn’t elaborate, it is believed that he was referring to the PTI’s demand for the resignation of Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif for the period a judicial commission investigates the alleged fraud in the 2013 parliamentary elections.
The two sides met at the residence of PTI senior leader Jahangir Tareen hours after their first meeting of the day. PTI vice chairman Shah Mehmood Qureshi led his side while the government team was represented by Ishaq Dar and Minister for Science and Technology Zahid Hamid.
“We have conveyed our final position to the government side. They will get back to us after conferring with their leadership,” Qureshi said while appearing before the media with Dar after the talks. Last week, the two sides had exchanged written proposals for breaking the political impasse.
After the first round of talks on Monday, insiders claimed there was progress even on the trickier PTI demand for the resignation of Premier Nawaz and his brother Shahbaz Sharif, the chief minister of Punjab.
The two sides agreed to let the judicial commission, formed by the prime minister, to investigate the alleged electoral fraud, to do its work before pressing for the resignations of the Sharif brothers, a member of the opposition Jirga told The Express Tribune. The Jirga has been facilitating talks between the government and the protesting parties.
“If the commission establishes systematic rigging in the 2013 elections, then the entire PML-N government would have to resign,” he said.
On his part, Jamaat-e-Islami Ameer Sirajul Haq, a member of the opposition Jirga, expressed optimism that the dialogue would yield positive results. “The responsibility lies more with the government,” he said, urging all stakeholders to take a step back. PPP Senator Rehman Malik, who flanked the JI chief, added that “sacrifice is the need of the hour.”
Another Jirga member Liaquat Baloch, who is also JI’s secretary general, said that the solution to the political logjam was above the resignation mantra. “Our mediation is very clear and we want to make such terms and conditions for the judicial commission which are acceptable to both sides,” he told The Express Tribune.
Senator Kalsoom Perveen, who is also part of the Jirga, said: “We succeeded in breaking the deadlock and now our role is that of facilitators.” She added that they haven’t come up with any new formula. “We only convinced both sides to soften their stances on contentious points.”
The government is holding parallel talks with PTI and Pakistan Awami Tehreek (PAT) through two separate teams. The second committee, led by Planning and Development Minister Ahsan Iqbal, met PAT negotiators twice on Monday. However, the two sides refused to share what transpired at the meeting.
The JI chief told The Express Tribune that negotiations with both parties have entered a decisive stage where one could expect make or break very soon.
“Some positive developments have taken place during the past two days but the issue of the resignations of the Sharif brothers was the only bone of contention.”
Published in The Express Tribune, September 9th, 2014.
Comments are moderated and generally will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive.
For more information, please see our Comments FAQ