Dialogue can’t happen with a ‘gun to your head’: Pak FM Bilawal Bhutto

Parties in Pakistan’s ruling coalition oppose Supreme Court’s order calling on political parties to reach a consensus on a date for polls

By Agencies

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Pakistan's Foreign Minister Bilawal Bhutto. — Reuters file
Pakistan's Foreign Minister Bilawal Bhutto. — Reuters file

Published: Fri 21 Apr 2023, 11:13 PM

Pakistan's Foreign Minister Bilawal Bhutto Zardari said on Thursday that his party was trying to build consensus among the country's political leadership on holding elections, but asserted that any dialogue would be futile if it is carried out "with a gun to your head".

The Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) chairman's remarks came as the country's Chief Justice Umar Ata Bandial requested political leaders to hold negotiations after the Supreme Court resumed hearing a petition seeking to hold general elections for all national and provincial assemblies simultaneously.

Justice Bandial said that there could be no obstinacy in negotiations and that consensus could be built through bilateral talks, The Express Tribune newspaper reported.

He asked the political leaders to meet and negotiate on Thursday rather than after Eid Al Fitr. During the hearing, he said the elections could be held in July after Eid.

Despite Justice Bandial's request, no dialogue was held between the highly-polarised political parties.

Later, the hearing was adjourned till April 27 after Attorney-General for Pakistan Mansoor Awan and PPP lawyer Farooq H Naek met Justice Bandial in his chamber and sought more time to hold dialogue with the opposition Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) party led by ousted prime minister Imran Khan to evolve consensus on the matter, the report said.

"We have made attempts in the past to unify the political leadership [on elections] and are willing to do that again, but dialogue cannot take place with a gun to your head as no one will agree," Bilawal, 34, said.

He said the PPP supports holding elections on the same day and is prepared to talk to anyone to achieve this goal. "Our efforts are aimed at saving democracy, which is currently in danger," he said.

Bilawal hoped that the CJP would establish consensus within his institution before leaving his post. "Our history has never witnessed such fragmentation within the judiciary. The Supreme Court is currently undergoing a trial before the people," he said.

Visit to India explained

Meanwhile responding to a question in a programme on Dunya News TV channel aired on Thursday, Foreign Minister Bilawal Bhutto has said that his participation in a meeting of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization Council in India reflected Islamabad’s commitment to the charter of the SCO and should not be seen in terms of bilateral ties.

“We are committed to the SCO charter and this visit should not be seen as a bilateral one but in the context of the SCO,” Bilawal said.

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