Finance Minister Ishaq Dar on Wednesday took parliament’s joint session into confidence on the ongoing dialogue with the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) and Pakistan Awami Tehreek (PAT).
Dar told the house that despite refusal of government negotiators to discuss the demand for resignation of Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, the PTI committee has agreed to negotiate on other points.
“Contrary to take-it-or-reject it condition, the PTI leaders have agreed to reconsider their terms and conditions related to a summary trial on the basis of selected constituencies’ samples,” he said.
He said the PTI leadership wanted Chief Justice Nasirul Mulk to head the judicial commission to probe the alleged electoral fraud. “But we told them that it was not appropriate to direct the apex court or its top judge to head the panel,” he said. Dar also told the lawmakers that the PTI presented six demands of which five had been accepted. He said the two sides were deliberating on how to give legal cover to judicial commission – whether it should be through presidential ordinance or through an act of parliament.
Referring to electoral reforms, he said three of the PTI’s demands were futuristic.
“Electoral reforms committee has started working but the PTI has added two more demands regarding the judicial commission,” he said, adding: “If massive rigging is proven then we have no right to stay, the whole cabinet will be dissolved.”
Referring to PAT and PTI’s demand for the resignation of Punjab Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif, Dar said no one could be removed on the basis of allegations. “However, if the allegations are proven, then those responsible will resign themselves,” he added.
Addressing the joint session, Railways Minister Khawaja Saad Rafique said PAT chief Dr Tahirul Qadri and PTI Chairman Imran Khan were playing with the Constitution. “Dr Qadri preaches revolution but does not know about its basics while Imran is using slang language to degrade parliamentarians,” he said.
Appealing to the protesting parties to end their sit-in and help flood victims, Rafique said Imran is mocking the situation by asking people to help during the day and come to the sit-in in the evening.
Defence Minister Khawaja Asif revealed further details about the terror attack on the Naval Dockyard in Karachi.
“The insurgents could not have carried out the assault without inside help,” he said, adding that security forces operation had killed three attackers, which included a former naval officer, who was discharged in May last year.
He said the attack was a blowback of the ongoing military operation in North Waziristan. “It was a successful operation,” he said, claiming that no damage was done to any of the installations while seven of the attackers were also arrested.
Samungli airbase attack
Providing details of the August attack on Pakistan Air Force’s Samungli airbase in Quetta, the defence minister said the attack was also a reaction of Zarb-e-Azb offensive. “The terrorists, however, failed to inflict any human or material loss,” he added.
Asif said security forces started operation at 9:45pm on August 14 after they detected suspicious activity in a nearby nallah via night vision goggles. “Reinforcement reached the site immediately after which the attack was foiled,” he added.
Published in The Express Tribune, September 11th, 2014.
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