PTI and government negotiating teams holding third round of talks at Parliament House in Islamabad on Tuesday, May2, 2023. — Facebook/@Shah Mahmood Qureshi

PTI and government negotiating teams holding third round of talks at Parliament House in Islamabad on Tuesday, May2, 2023. — Facebook/@Shah Mahmood Qureshi
  • Govt says “significant” progress achieved in talks with PTI.
  • Says PTI “acknowledges” gravity of economic challenges.
  • Both sides agree on holding general elections on same date.

ISLAMABAD: Finance Minister Ishaq Dar, in a statement to the Supreme Court, informed that the ruling alliance “believe that political issues can best be resolved through dialogue and are ready to resume” it in the “larger national interest”.

The government made the assurance in its four-page statement submitted to the apex court today on the recent talks with the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI). 

Dar had submitted the statement on behalf of the coalition parties informing the court that “significant progress has been made since the dialogue process began”.

In the statement, Dar said that all members of the ruling alliance, apart from the two parties, had agreed to the negotiations. He added that five rounds of formal and informal talks were held between the PTI and the government.

“Coalition Partners’ committee apprised the PTI committee that the talks with the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and friendly countries are at the most sensitive and crucial stages. In order to avoid any further economic deterioration, it is of utmost necessity that the agreements with the IMF and friendly countries are concluded before the Annual Budget 2023-24 can be presented/approved,” read the statement.

Dar shared that he informed the PTI of the condition of the economy when it came to power and the situation after Imran Khan was ousted from power in 2022. The points highlighted by the government included the ranking of Pakistan’s economy, rising public debt, ballooning circular debt, downgrading of Pakistan’s stock market and decline of its market capitalisation. The PTI was also informed about the physical and economic losses on account of the devastating floods of last year.

“In view of the foregoing, the undersigned pointed out that it was absolutely critical to conclude the IMF ninth review, pass the Annual Budget for FY 2023-24 and approve the Trade Policy 2023-24 before dissolving the National Assembly,” said the finance minister.

The statement said that the PTI committee “acknowledged the gravity of economic challenges being faced by Pakistan and agreed to negotiate on holding general elections to the National and all provincial Assemblies on the same date”.

“The Coalition Partners also showed flexibility to reach political settlement and considered dissolving the National and two Provincial Assemblies before the end of their constitutionally mandated terms. Negotiations between both committees consequently led to a major breakthrough to end the political impasse,” said the statement.

The finance minister said that both parties agreed on the following points:

(I) Consensus amongst all participants that the general elections be held on the same date;

(II) The committees further agreed that the caretaker governments should be in place at both the federal and provincial levels for holding general elections justly, fairly and in accordance with law and to provide a level playing field to the leadership of all political parties to actively participate in the electoral process;

(III) There is, however, no agreement on the date of dissolution of the National and Provincial Assemblies of Sindh and Balochistan, and both committees had agreed on 02-05-2023 to resume negotiations after getting clearance from their respective leadership.

PTI welcomes early dissolution of assemblies

Reacting to the government’s proposal for the early dissolution of assemblies, PTI leader Fawad Chaudhry said it was a “positive step”.   

“If an agreement is reached on the date of dissolution of the assemblies and an agreement to install neutral caretaker governments before the elections, it will be important steps towards ending the political crisis,” said Fawad.

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