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PTI, govt to hold talks on elections today



ISLAMABAD: Following the Supreme Court’s emphasis on negotiations, talks between the government and Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) will begin at the Senate secretariat at 6pm, sources told Geo News.

Officials, privy to the development, shared that Attorney General for Pakistan Mansoor Usman Awan met Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif and briefed him on today’s hearing at the Supreme Court.

Following his meeting with the PM, the AGP contacted PTI’s Barrister Ali Zafar and Law Minister Azam Nazir Tarar.

From the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf’s (PTI) side its three-member committee will lead the talks while the government’s panel will be finalised after the ruling alliance’s lawmakers will meet with PM Shehbaz.

The development comes after Chief Justice of Pakistan Umar Ata Bandial urged the government and the opposition to sit for talks for the sake of the constitution.

The talks are happening at the Senate Secretariat despite PTI rejecting the Senate Chairman Sadiq Sanjrani’s proposal of forming a 10-member special parliamentary committeefor the dialogue.

PTI Vice Chairman Shah Mahmood Qureshi — speaking to media persons outside the Supreme Court before today’s hearing— said that the party has rejected Sanjrani’s committee as “this matter isn’t about Senate, it is about political consensus”.

Qureshi said that the party has already formed its three-member committee after consultations with party chief Imran Khan. The panel comprises Qureshi, Fawad Chaudhry and Barrister Ali Zafar.

The ruling alliance had proposed the formation of a 10-member parliamentary committee with equal representation from both sides for talks on holding elections across the country on the same date.

The thaw in the rigid political scenario took place following the government’s suggestion of a parliamentary committee to hold parleys with the Opposition in line with the Supreme Court’s instruction to develop a consensus on the election date.

According to Geo News sources, Federal Minister for Law Azam Nazeer Tarar and Railways Minister Khawaja Saad Rafique contacted Sanjrani in this regard.

The sources further added that the government suggested that the parliamentary committee should include five members from each side.

Following the meeting, Sanjrani wrote a letter to PTI seeking nominations for the committee.

In his letter to PTI leader Shehzad Waseem, the Senate chairman said that he had been approached by the ruling coalition to mediate a “political dialogue to address the ongoing political and economic crisis including the holding of general elections.”

“The Senate of Pakistan; House of Federation, being a stabilising factor of the federation is constitutionally bestowed with the responsibility of protecting the national and political harmony vis-a-vis the national and public interest,” he wrote.

Sanjrani added that a 10-member special committee for holding political dialogue is being constituted under the joint convenership of the Leader of the House in the Senate and Leader of the Opposition in the Senate and comprising four members each from the treasury and opposition benches.

He further mentioned that his office and the Senate will be available to facilitate the talks. He then asked Waseem to provide, on the PTI’s behalf, the names of four members from the opposition benches, to be made part of the committee in two days.

Earlier, Sanjrani had also contacted PTI leaders Shah Mehmood Qureshi, Asad Umar and Waseem, the sources said.

PTI’s panel

Meanwhile, former prime minister Imran Khan formed a three-member panel for a dialogue with the government over the issue of elections and other relevant matters, The News reported.

The panel comprises PTI Vice Chairman Shah Mehmood Qureshi, Vice President Fawad Chaudhry and Senator Barrister Ali Zafar.

It may be noted that the Supreme Court has directed the political parties to hold a dialogue in a bid to reach a consensus on the date of elections in the country, with the government stressing to hold the polls on same day.

The government is expected to inform the apex court about the progress in the implementation of orders, in today’s hearing on pleas seeking simultaneous elections across the country.

On April 4, the three-member bench headed by Chief Justice of Pakistan Umar Ata Bandial had ordered the government to hold polls in Punjab on May 14.

However, after issuing its written verdict in the previous hearing, the court held that its judgment rendered on the case of delay in the elections had already fixed May 14 as the date of election to the Punjab Assembly.

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