PTI-govt not agree on election date

F.P. Report

ISLAMABAD: Members of the ruling coalition and opposition PTI concluded the third round of crucial election talks at the Parliament House on Tuesday, with Finance Minister Ishaq Dar from the government’s negotiating team saying that a consensus was reached on holding elections on the same day across the country under a caretaker setup.

Separately, PTI’s Shah Mahmood Qureshi also confirmed this development, saying that they had “shown flexibility for the sake of national consensus”. But, he also announced that the PTI would approach the Supreme Court, brief it on the negotiations and request for elections in Punjab to be held on May 14.

Speaking to the media after today’s meeting, Dar said, “There was no longer any confusion about whether there should be separate elections in one or two provinces […] and the two sides have agreed that holding elections in the country on the same day was for the betterment.” He added that another positive outcome of the talks was that elections would be held under caretaker setups.

However, he added, a consensus was yet to be reached on the date of the elections. “We have narrowed down on the date … but we have yet to reach an agreement,” he said, adding that both sides would consult their leaderships on the matter. He termed the consensus on one-day elections “a big success”.

A three-member delegation of the PTI led by Shah Mehmood Qureshi and comprising Fawad Chaudhary and Senator Ali Zafar has arrived at the Parliament House in Islamabad to hold talks with the government’s team.

The government team comprises former prime minister Syed Yousaf Raza Gilani, Finance Minister Senator Ishaq Dar, Law Minister Senator Azam Nazir Tarar, Minister for Railways Khawaja Saad Rafique, Minister for Commerce Naveed Qamar, Minister for National Food Security and Research Tariq Bashir Cheema, and Muttahida Qaumi Movement-Pakistan Kishwar Zahra.

Earlier, Speaking to the media upon his arrival at Parliament House today, Qureshi said “the PTI’s conditions will be known to all after today’s talks”. To a question about “mistakes” from both sides during the course of the negotiations, Qureshi maintained that the PTI had made none. “We are proceeding seriously and honestly,” he said. Earlier, members of the PTI’s negotiating team held a meeting to determine the plan of action and strategy for the meeting.

Meanwhile, President Dr Arif Alvi on Tuesday advising the politicians to let sense prevail, expressed the hoped that the ongoing talks between the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf and the ruling coalition would bring in some positive outcome.

The president, in an interview with a private television channel said there was a trust deficit among the politicians and urged them to adopt the characteristic of forgiveness to improve the situation. He said if the politicians create mutual understanding and the judiciary remained steadfast, no one could breach the constitution. He said it were the politicians who mobilized the masses to protect the constitution. Calling it a “criminal enticement” the president discouraged the practice of paralysing the constitution for sake of power. Coming to his social works, the president said unfortunately around 32percent or 27 million children were out of school in Pakistan comparing just one percent in India and Bangladesh which he said was a major crisis.