The latest round of talks between the ruling Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) and the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) on Tuesday failed as the two sides could not narrow down differences on the issue of formation of a judicial commission to probe alleged rigging in the 2013 elections.
“Both sides have stuck on ‘scope of work’ of the proposed commission,” Finance Minister Ishaq Dar told journalists after a meeting with PTI negotiators. “Now we will take all parties into confidence on PTI’s draft,” he added. Another government negotiator, Ahsan Iqbal, who is also minister for planning and development, said that they wanted the issue to be resolved amicably.
He said the government has no objection over PTI’s definition of rigging. “We should accept a decision of the proposed judicial commission on whether any systematic rigging was committed during the 2013 elections or whether any other institution favoured one party.”
Dar said that due to the hectic schedule of Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, the government could not deliberate on PTI’s proposal. “Our legal wizards are deliberating to resolve issues so no one could point out lacunas after the formation of the commission,” he added.
In reply to a question on when would the PML-N and PTI teams meet again, Dar said: “Now we will see each other secretly.”
Earlier, a PTI negotiator said the government has made many changes to the previously agreed draft. To this, Dar said “we answered PTI’s December 19 proposal after a consensus of all political parties on 24th of this month.”
A PTI member during the meeting pointed out that the procedure adopted by the PML-N to seek approval from all political parties would only delay the matter. Dar said the government would have to seek approval over the draft from all parliamentary parties that had backed the government during testing times and then get back to the PTI.
PTI Vice-President Shah Mahmood Qureshi, who unlike past meetings didn’t appear before the media with the government negotiators, said it was the last meeting with the government. “We came here today with the expectation to sign an agreement but it seems the government is avoiding a probe into the electoral fraud,” he said.
Published in The Express Tribune, December 31st, 2014.