Pakistan: Imran's PTI ready for talks with govt

  • Imtiaz Ahmad, Hindustan Times, Islamabad
  • Updated: Sep 03, 2014 22:14 IST

Negotiations have started between the Pakistan Awami Tehreek and a "tribal jirga" while the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf has indicated it is once again ready for talks with the government, raising hopes that finally a political solution may end the current crisis in Pakistan.

The "tribal jirga" (council of elders) met with PAT chief Tahir-ul Qadri earlier on Wednesday and indicated that some progress had been made in talks.

Jamaat-e-Islami leader Siraj ul Haq, who is heading the jirga, told the media that he was hopeful of some progress in the next couple of days. "We have managed to agree to a timeframe and also set targets for the next couple of days," he told reporters in Islamabad.

Meanwhile, following up on Imran Khan’s announcement a day earlier, PTI leader Shah Mehmood Qureshi spoke in parliament on Wednesday, and talked in defence of his party’s actions during the protests, saying, "We are protesting to save parliament, not to destroy it."

Qureshi was speaking at a joint session of parliament on Wednesday. The speaker had allowed PTI MP's to attend the session "one last time" as they had already tendered their resignations.

The PTI leader also distanced his party from the violence in Islamabad earlier this week, suggesting that there may finally be a difference of direction between his party and the PAT.

Qureshi also defended his party against allegations by the party president, Javed Hashmi, that the party leadership was following instructions from the army. "The PTI never was and never will be part of a grand plan that will undermine democracy," Qureshi clarified, adding "The PTI throughout the march has stayed within the law, I can speak for my party."

In order to avoid a face off, Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif left parliament just as Qureshi was about to speak. He returned shortly after Qureshi finished. Party officials said that this was done so that there is no unpleasant exchange of remarks between the two.

On another front, MQM leader Altaf Hussain told MPs from his party to submit their resignations. "I give all assemblies one week to improve their functioning," the MQM chief said in a message from London where he lives in self-exile, adding that the parliament is "full of drama." Observers that the move by the MQM may have been in line with the army's call to end the political stand-off in the country as soon as possible.

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