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No 'breakthrough' as leaders huddle to break the impasse

07 August, 2014

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ISLAMABAD: The capital witnessed a flurry of back-to-back top level political contacts on Wednesday as Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif reiterated that all political problems could only be solved through dialogue, and urged all political parties, especially PTI, to respect the public mandate of the last general elections.

He was talking to Jamaat-e-Islami Ameer Sirajul Haq, who called on him at the PM House in a bid to diffuse tensions between the PML N and PTI ahead of long march and sit-in announced by Imran Khan for August 14. The opposition and government leaderships remained busy behind closed doors all day on Wednesday discussing the pros and cons and repercussions of the August 14 "Azadi March" of the PTI and possible ways to cool down the prevalent political temperature.

Jamaat-e-Islami chief Sirajul Haq held meetings with PTI chief Imran Khan, Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, opposition leader Khursheed Shah and Pakhtunkhwa Milli Awami Party (PkMAP) leader Mahmood Khan Achakzai to cool down the political temperature and find a solution to the political impasse. Meanwhile, PPP Co-Chairman Asif Ali Zardari phoned Imran Khan for the second time in two days, and PAT chief Tahirul Qadri in Lahore.

These political contacts, however, failed to persuade the PTI chief to engage in political dialogue with the PML-N government, as he reportedly insisted on going ahead with the long march and sit-in in Islamabad. During his meeting with the prime minister and some other political personalities, an interesting proposal was floated by PML-Zia chief Ijazul Haq, who advised the PM to invite Imran Khan for a meeting and dialogue. "If you (PM) are meeting all political leaders, why don't you meet Imran Khan?" Ijaz told the premier.

Imran, however, warned the government of dire consequences if his party's workers were arrested, tortured or humiliated. Jamaat-e-Islami Ameer Sirajul Haq earlier met the PTI chief on Wednesday evening to know his mind about any chance of rapprochement with the PML-N government, and late in the day called on Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif along with party's Secretary General Liaquat Baloch to convey PTI's stand point about the current political impasse.

"I have conveyed some suggestions to the prime minister on how to resolve the current political crisis," Siraj told newsmen after his meeting with PM Nawaz. Sirajul Haq urged Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif to come forward and address the complaints of the opposition parties regarding the alleged vote fraud in the last elections. "It is the prime responsibility of the present government to take initiatives to calm down the political tension in the country," he declared.

"We have discussed proposals with both the (PML-N and PTI) leaderships to avoid possible scuffle, and to ensure a friendly environment to strengthen democracy in the country." The JI chief, however, expressed concerns and reservations over the transparency of the last general elections. "We support Imran Khan's stance to make the election system fair and transparent," he declared.

Expressing the hope that the current political tension would be defused soon, Sirajul Haq said that his party was playing a role in this regard in the larger national interest. "Some options came under discussion during my meeting with the prime minister and a way-out will be ensured to address concerns of the PTI and PAT," the JI chief said. To a question, he said that the JI would take a decision on PTI's invitation to join its long march after August 10.

Earlier, after having a detailed discussion with Imran Khan on the prevailing political scenario, Sirajul Haq said that his party will support the stance taken by the PTI chief regarding the "electoral reforms". Talking to media at Banigala after meeting Imran Khan, the JI chief said that he was invited by Imran Khan to participate in the Azadi March, but added that the JI will decide about it on August 10 in its Majlis-e-Shura meeting after the million-man march in support of martyrs of Palestine.


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