Irked by the stalemate in the moribund negotiations with an ‘unrelenting government’, the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) said on Sunday that it could not cede more ground to the government, reiterating that it would persevere in its demand for an independent inquiry into alleged rigging in the 2013 election.
“The PTI negotiating team has shown as much flexibility as it could in talks with the government. In the past, too, the party leadership showed flexibility and rescinded its original demand for the resignation of the prime minister. Deadlock persists on the three critical issues that the government had earlier acquiesced to,” the party said in a statement following its core committee meeting.
It called upon the government to come to the middle ground as the PTI could not show more flexibility. The statement pointed out that the PTI had adopted a conciliatory approach in the best national interest and it should not be misconstrued as a shift from its resolve to have the 2013 elections investigated by an ‘independent, inquisitorial judicial commission’.
“The PTI had called off its street protest and marathon dharna but it still retains all these options,” it warned. “The PTI has sacrificed tremendously in its struggle for a fair and free election and against electoral fraud and it will, in no way, step back from this commitment. Let there be no doubt on this count.”
PTI chairman Imran Khan had called off his party’s 126-day-long sit-in on the Constitution Avenue in Islamabad to lend support to the government in its fight against militants following the December 16 bloody rampage by Taliban gunmen at the Army Public School in Peshawar that killed 150 people, all but few schoolchildren. He had also withdrawn his call for a nationwide shutdown scheduled for December 18 as envisaged in his ‘Plan C’.
Referring to Imran’s decision, the party said it had gone the ‘extra mile’ in accommodating the government in times of crises so that it should not be seen in any way as undermining the national cohesion to fight terrorism.
“The PTI, despite its aversion to military courts, supported the government in principle in the interest of fighting terrorism effectively. And it must be pointed out that PTI’s own leadership has had terrorist charges against it,” the statement said. “However, this should not be taken as a sign that the PTI is in any way moving away from its demand for an independent inquiry into the May 2013 electoral rigging.”
The meeting of PTI’s core committee came a day after a failed round of talks with the government negotiators. PTI Information Secretary Dr Shireen Mazari said in statement after the talks that negotiators from both sides met behind closed doors but failed to find the middle ground on the contentious issue. “While some progress was made, there was no agreement on the outstanding core issues,” she added.
Interestingly on Friday, the two sides had evolved consensus on issues such as formation of the judicial commission through a presidential ordinance but they could not reach any conclusion over the three key points.
According to sources, the PTI has shown some flexibility on its stance regarding the terms of reference (ToRs) but both sides could not agree over the scope of the commission’s findings. Definition of rigging is also among the sticking points, sources added.
The government says the commission should look into whether or not a majority has been converted into a minority, through systematic rigging in last year’s elections.
Published in The Express Tribune, December 29th, 2014.
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