Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif has given his key ministers the go-ahead to resume talks with the Pakistan Awami Tehreek (PAT) but not with the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI), The Express Tribune has learnt.
The nod was given at a high-level meeting of the ruling Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) held at the Prime Minister’s House on Friday. The meeting also finalised plans to recover losses inflicted by the protest sit-ins of the PTI and PAT in the capital, sources said.
Interior Minister Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan, Finance Minister Ishaq Dar, Defence Minister Khawaja Asif, Planning and Development Minister Ahsan Iqbal, Information Minister Pervaiz Rashid and Minister for States and Frontier Regions (SAFRON) Abdul Qadir Baloch attended the meeting which was convened to discuss the prevailing political situation in the country.
Resumption of talks with PAT
Sharing details of the meeting, sources said that the team of PML-N’s core ministers agreed to immediately restart negotiations with PAT to wind up its sit-in in Islamabad. The government, they said, is set to resume talks with PAT today (Saturday) and will pick up from where negotiations had collapsed before Eidul Azha. Ahsan Iqbal will lead the negotiating team while PAT negotiators will be led by the party’s general secretary, Khurram Nawaz Gandapur, sources added.
According to sources, talks between the government and PAT had hit deadlock over the quashment of 11 cases against PAT chief Dr Tahirul Qadri. Currently, there are over 40 cases lodged against Qadri, of which 11 deal with serious offences such as the killing and torture of police personnel and attacks on state institutions.
This time, however, talks will begin with a broader spirit to end PAT’s protest as soon as possible, sources said.
On the other hand, participants of the meeting decided against resuming talks with the Imran Khan-led PTI, believing that its protest would soon fizzle out. According to sources, the interior minister gave the PTI just three months before the party would exhaust its support.
Talking to The Express Tribune, Ahsan Iqbal confirmed the decision to resume talks with PAT and said that he was hopeful the party would end its sit-in before its October 19 gathering in Lahore. “There are just a few unresolved issues with PAT. These will hopefully be resolved soon,” he added.
Asked about talks with the PTI, Iqbal said their sit-in was ‘almost over’ and had devolved to just a ‘musical function’. He added that the PTI was also unwilling to talk with the government as it was holding public gatherings across the country.
During the meeting, the prime minister also decided to send a high-level delegation to China on October 21 to make arrangements for his own visit to the country in the first week of November, sources said. They added that in order to make up for the losses inflicted by the sit-ins, the participants of the meeting decided to expedite the finalisation of the ongoing schemes and development projects.
Hashmi’s defeat in Multan
The meeting participants fixed responsibility for Javed Hashmi’s defeat in the NA-149 (Multan) by-elections on the former PTI president’s conduct, according to sources. They said the prime minister was told that despite the best efforts of the PML-N team helping Hashmi, the latter’s injustices against the party’s local leadership hampered his own election campaign.
Published in The Express Tribune, October 18th, 2014.
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