Pakistan govt, opposition hold talks to end deadlock over holding polls

Leaders from both sides meet to resolve differences over holding elections on same day

By Agencies

  • Follow us on
  • google-news
  • whatsapp
  • telegram


PTI leaders Fawad Chaudhry and Shah Mahmod Qureshi address the media after the first round of talks.
PTI leaders Fawad Chaudhry and Shah Mahmod Qureshi address the media after the first round of talks.

Published: Thu 27 Apr 2023, 11:37 PM

After much bickering and dithering, Pakistan's political leaders on Thursday began talks to end the deadlock over holding elections in the country.

The government and the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf, the main opposition party led by former prime minister Imran Khan, have been wrangling over the issue of whether to hold elections on the same date in the country or first go for polls in the provinces of Punjab and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa only.

The government has nominated senior Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) leaders — Finance Minister Ishaq Dar, Railways Minister Khawaja Saad Rafique, Law Minister Azam Tarar and Ayaz Sadiq — and Pakistan People's Party (PPP) leaders Yousaf Raza Gillani and Naveed Qamar as members of the committee holding the talks, the Express Tribune newspaper reported.

The Muttahida Qaumi Movement-Pakistan (MQM-P) leader Kishwar Zehra is also a part of the government-nominated committee.

PTI Vice-Chairman Shah Mahmood Qureshi, Barrister Ali Zafar and senior leader Fawad Chaudhary are representing their party.

Importantly, Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam-Fazl (JUI-F), the lkey government ally and coalition partner, has decided to skip the talks.

Speaking to the media ahead of the talks, Qureshi said that the "one-point agenda of the talks was elections".

Both sides will resume talks on elections in Punjab and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa on Friday. Representatives from both sides met inside Senate Chairman Sadiq Sanjrani’s chamber on Thursday evening to begin the negotiations. The talks concluded after more than an hour.

Earlier, Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif in his address to parliament also said that the two sides would discuss the date for holding elections in the entire country.

The talks began following the invitation by Senate Chairman Sadiq Sanjrani to the rival groups to come forward for parleys to end the ongoing uncertainty in the country.

The Supreme Court had also asked the government and the PTI to sit together for talks but the advice was not heeded to and the court in its hearing of a case on Thursday observed that it would not push them for talks.

Though it is not clear how long the negotiations would go on, time is limited as the Supreme Court had already given May 14 for elections in Punjab and the two sides should agree sooner on a new date to postpone the Punjab polls.

The PTI is determined to press for polls in the provincial legislatures, but the government maintains its stance on simultaneous elections across the country.

The National Assembly will complete its five-year term in August this year. According to the Constitution, elections shall be held within 90 days after the dissolution of the lower house. This means that the election must be held by mid-October. The last general election was held in July 2018.

More news from World