The ruling Pakistan Democratic Movement (PDM) coalition has quashed Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) leader Imran Khan’s request to dissolve Pakistan’s National Assembly on May 14 to pave the way for talks, according to Pakistani media The Dawn.
Coalition and party member of Pakistani Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif Pakistan Muslim League (Nawaz) (PML-N) told former Prime Minister Imran Khan that he and his PTI would be the ‘ultimate loser’ if negotiations failed .
They also pointed out that the elections can be delayed for a year under a constitutional provision. The party urged the main opposition party to be more flexible and make the dialogues a success.
Ahsan Iqbal, party general secretary and federal development minister, said the PTI could not hold talks while keeping others at gunpoint. “We want to tell Imran Khan that he cannot hold talks at gunpoint. The first condition of the talks is that there are no preconditions. Mr. Khan is so desperate that he wants his way or the highway,” Iqbal said as quoted by the Dawn.
Imran himself is not attending the talks as he said earlier and has sent his representatives to speak on his behalf at the multi-party conference. He also appears to remain adamant on holding the elections, even though the dialogue mediator is Jamaat-i-Islami (JI) leader Sirajul Haq.
The JI chief urged both sides to consider dropping a few key demands. The meeting will try to convince the ruling party to hold general elections before October and will urge the main opposition parties to drop their demand to hold polls on May 14, for the Punjab provincial elections.
However, both sides remain stuck on their own positions.
The federal government said it sat down for talks with the PTI with an open mind, but would not agree to the PTI leader’s demands to dissolve the National Assembly, Sindh provincial assemblies and of Balochistan.
“The people of Sindh and Balochistan cannot be punished for the folly of Imran Khan who dissolved the assemblies of Punjab and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa to force elections… under the patronage of his ‘handlers’ in the institutions,” added Iqbal.
Defense Minister Khawaja Asif remained skeptical about the positive outcome of the talks, saying the PTI sets conditions. However, the Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) remains optimistic despite the demand for the dissolution of the PTI.
Senior PPP leader and special assistant to the prime minister, Qamar Zaman Kaira, told the Dawn that the suggestion is not viable and that common sense would prevail. He added that the PPP believed that these talks would not end in failure.
Kaira said the suggestions are not viable because the caretaker government would not be able to present the budget in May and hold talks with the International Monetary Fund (IMF).
JI leader Sirajul Haq, who launched the so-called “consensus offensive”, also remained hopeful about the outcome of the talks.
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