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Talks fail; 'Youm-e-Inqilab' today

28 August, 2014

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ISLAMABAD: Pakistan Awami Tehreek (PAT) and Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) on Wednesday midnight announced that their separate negotiations with the federal government have ended in a failure following refusal of the PML-N regime to come to terms with their set of demands.

PAT chief Tahirul Qadri announced "Youm-e-Inqilab" today (Thursday) in his late-night address to his supporters, wile PTI chief Imran Khan told his workers and followers to continue with his peaceful struggle at the sit-in venue of the Constitution Avenue. But Qadri created chaos and scare in the capital as he indirectly warned of a looming military intervention, and asked workers to get ready for sacrifice and martyrdom on Thursday. Security people translate it as a stark and indirect warning of storming government buildings, especially Parliament House. 

Some government sources, however, remained optimistic about a last-minute deal on Thursday with PAT as Qadri told his crowds after two rounds of negotiations on Wednesday with government's ministerial committee that the doors of the negotiations have been closed as government did not fulfil two of its demands – registration of FIR against 21 people nominated by it, and resignation of Punjab Chief Minister Shahba Sharif – till midnight Wednesday. PTI chief also ended talks with the government following refusal of the prime minister to step down for a 30-day period subject to completion of proposed Supreme Court investigation into 2013 elections fraud allegations.   

The PML-N government had earlier changed its dialogue strategy preferring a fast track deal with Tahirul Qadri-led PAT, as PTI chief Imran Khan ended the dialogue process after his demand regarding Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif's time-bound resignation or proceeding on leave was formally rejected by the government.

Two back-to-back meetings between the government's top negotiator, Senior Minister Ishaq Dar with PAT chief Tahirul Qadri in his container did not produce any breakthrough till midnight on Wednesday as the PAT insisted on immediate registration of FIR against those nominated in its application for registration of the FIR for Model Town killings, and production of Punjab Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif's written resignation along with those of the federal and provincial ministers nominated in its FIR.

Tahirul Qadri announced suspension of talks with the government and said the final decision would be taken by an "Inqilabi Jirga" of people Thursday evening. "Participants of the Inqilab March would decide Thursday at 3pm the fate of the nation and Pakistan, and it would be a day of revolution," the firebrand Canada-based anti-government cleric said. "We will prove true and realise the dream of Quaid-i-Azam and the promise of constitution of the country to the masses," he maintained.

Meanwhile, PTI chief Imran Khan Wednesday announced an end to negotiations with the government till the resignation of Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif. Addressing his supporters in the Red Zone after the government and PTI negotiating teams failed to break the deadlock, Imran said the government accepted all the demands except the resignation of Nawaz Sharif. He said there could be no independent investigation into alleged rigging of elections in the presence of Nawaz Sharif. The government side seemed in a hurry to strike a deal with the PAT after a reported advice from the military establishment to end the current political stalemate through meaningful negotiations, and end choking of the Constitution Avenue, which was crippling the working of the central government.

The military had earlier set limits for government as well as protest marchers not to cross read lines i.e. non-indulgence into violence of any sort, or invading any government building along the Constitution Avenue. The federal government on Tuesday had also assured the garrison that the PTI camp seemed in low morale Wednesday night as its crowd dwindled and negotiations with the government ended in a stalemate, forcing its chief to come on stage at midnight and telling party and workers to stay put for a long haul.

Imran had earlier in the day paid no heed to a request by the government ministers to have a direct meeting with him, following failure of the latest round of talks between Ishaq Dar-led government team and Shah Mahmood Qureshi-led PTI leaders. The meeting that took place at PTI Secretary General Jahangir Tareen's House in Islamabad failed to produce any result as PTI insisted on PM Nawaz's resignation and PML-N remained adamant it was non-negotiable. The government sided, however, tried to put up another bargaining chip, offering PTI and slot of deputy premiership through a statement of its influential legislators Ch Jaffar Iqbal.

The offer meant that the PTI could oversee the administrative side of the investigations into 2013 fraud allegations as soon as the proposed Supreme Court Commission undertakes its work. PTI refused to buy the deal, as the government also didn't own it later.

The PML-N government earlier decided to have a direct contact with PAT and PTI through top ministers. It was able to have an access to PAT chief Qadri in the evening hours through Ministers Ishaq Dar and Zahid Hamid.

Both went to Dr Qadri's container at the Constitution Avenue and came out after an hour with demands that the government should make sure registration of Model Town killings FIR, and Punjab Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif along with federal and provincial ministers nominated in the PAT application should resign forthwith. Ishaq Dar came for the second time to meet Dr Qadri after a meeting with PM who refused to budge over CM's resignation as demanded by Qadri.

Govt asks PTI, PAT to keep dialogue option open

Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) government on Wednesday pleaded with the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) and Pakistan Awami Tehreek (PAT) to keep the doors of dialogue open and withdraw the deadlines they have given, for the sake of the country.

On the instructions of Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, Federal Railways Minister Khawaja Saad Rafiq briefed the National Assembly and said that issues cannot be resolved until direct contacts are made with both Imran Khan and Tahirul Qadri. He assured the House about the resolution of the political crisis through dialogue, however he declared that "unconstitutional" demands of the two parties cannot be accepted. About the demand of the resignation of the prime minister, Saad said that it would is out of question before electoral rigging is proved.

"If rigging is proved then the whole assembly would be out, not just the prime minister," he said. He said the practice of punishing someone before they are proved guilty would set a wrong precedent and would destroy the whole system. He called upon the protesting parties to shun their ego and assured the House that there was no plan to crack down on the protesters. He asked both the parties to withdraw their deadlines and come to the path of dialogue.

About his contacts with the PTI, Saad told the House that the party was approached four times, besides many telephonic conversations with the leadership of the party. The PAT was contacted directly seven times besides several telephonic conversations. Saad said the government is ready to provide a legal forum to Qadri for his demands. About the Model Town incident, the minister said that Qadri intends to bring even the innocent to justice. He showed readiness to resolve the controversy through legal course and under the injunctions of the Shariah.

He said that the government had showed flexibility more than what was supposed to show and appealed to both parties not to indulge in provocative speeches. Earlier, as the House resumed the debate on the current political situation of the country, ANP's Ghulam Ahmed Bilour warned that if any unconstitutional step is taken the country would have to go under a new social contract. He said that in such a case the Senate would have the say and even power to elect the prime minister.


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