Pakistan: Govt, opposition to hold more talks over elections

Both sides table proposals to break impasse over election date; Next round of talks on Tuesday

By Agencies

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Finance Minister Ishaq Dar says both sides need to discuss proposals with their leadership.
Finance Minister Ishaq Dar says both sides need to discuss proposals with their leadership.

Published: Fri 28 Apr 2023, 11:42 PM

The second round of talks between the opposition Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) party and the ruling coalition led by the PML-N to break the impasse over holding of elections ended on Friday with both sides agreeing to continue negotiations next week.

Both sides failed to make a breakthrough on holding general elections but exchanged proposals and agreed to meet again on Tuesday.

The second round of talks was held against the backdrop of the controversy with Imran Khan’s PTI party seeking early polls — particularly in Punjab and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa where assemblies were dissolved in January — and the government maintaining that elections across the country be held on the same day in October.

The government side included Ishaq Dar, Khawaja Saad Rafique, Azam Nazeer Tarar, and Sardar Ayaz Sadiq from the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N). They were joined by Yousuf Raza Gilani and Syed Naveed Qamar from the Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) as well as other parties in the coalition government.

The PTI fielded its vice-chairman Shah Mahmood Qureshi, senior vice-president Fawad Chaudhry, and senator Ali Zafar for talks.

The talks were held in the Parliament House, a neutral venue acceptable to the two sides.

The first round was held on Thursday which went on for two hours and the rivals decided to meet again after consulting their party heads.

At the end of the second round, Dar said each side had tabled two proposals, which would be presented to the respective leadership.

“Some progress was made today,” he said, adding that the “final round” of talks would resume on Tuesday at 11 am.

"There is no deadlock in the talks," he said, elaborating that the meeting has been postponed till next week as both sides need to discuss the proposals with their leadership.

PTI leader Shah Mahmood Qureshi said in his view, "reasonable progress" had been made and that he would inform party chairman Imran Khan about the talks after visiting him in Lahore.

"We presented our point of view and they presented theirs," Qureshi said, without revealing derails about the proposals.

Fawad Chaudhry sounded more optimistic in a tweet when he said that the main objective of the negotiations was to recognise that people were the centre of power.

“Yesterday, talks were held in a pleasant environment,” he tweeted. “Today, we should move forward for the country by understanding each other’s point of view.” However, Defence Minister Khawaja Asif appeared less optimistic about the outcome of the talks and termed the exercise a waste of time.

He also said, “Elections will be held on one day in October”.

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.

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