Thursday, Oct 30, 2014

Oppn ‘jirga’ meets protest leaders, says solution soon

Pakistan's fiery cleric Tahir-ul-Qadri, second left, and cricketer-turned-politician Imran Khan, right, jointly raise their hands for their supporters during a protest near Prime Minister's home in Islamabad. (Source: AP photo) Pakistan's fiery cleric Tahir-ul-Qadri, second left, and cricketer-turned-politician Imran Khan, right, jointly raise their hands for their supporters during a protest near Prime Minister's home in Islamabad. (Source: AP photo)
PTI | Islamabad | Posted: September 4, 2014 2:54 am

After weeks of turmoil, the political storm that has engulfed Pakistan seemed to be ebbing Wednesday as protesters returned to talks with the government and a mediator between the two warring sides said a “concrete solution” is in sight.

The positive development came after a war of words in the Parliament between lawmakers of the Imran Khan-led Pakistan Tehreek-I-Insaf (PTI), who had quit but their resignations have not been accepted by the Speaker, and pro-government leaders.

In a significant development, an opposition ‘jirga’, a committee of opposition politicians led by Jamaat-i-Islami (JI) chief Sirajul Haq, held talks with the PTI leadership on Wednesday evening.

Both Khan and cleric Tahir ul-Qadri of the Pakistan Awami Tehreek (PAT) agreed late Tuesday night to talk to the opposition ‘jirga’ that is mediating between the embattled Nawaz Sharif-led government and the protesters who have been demanding the Prime Minister’s resignation over alleged vote rigging in last year’s election.

Speaking to reporters after meeting the jirga which included Haq and Pakistan People’s Party leader Rehman Malik, senior PTI leader Shah Mehmood Qureshi said his party is ready to move ahead.

“PTI has agreed to move forward in a democratic manner,” he said.

In the joint media briefing, Haq said, “It has been a productive meeting. There is still a deadlock, but 70 per cent of the work has been done. We believe there will be a concrete solution soon.” “I would like to advise the government to refrain from issuing statements, which spread negativity. If both sides show patience, then we are not far in ending this crisis,” he said.

Malik said, “PTI showed maturity and didn’t say anything negative. I request the Prime Minister’s team not to talk about any individual. We have also requested the PAT committee to resolve the issue through dialogue.” “Everyone wants a peaceful solution. I believe that in the next 24 to 48 hours, things will normalise,” he said.

Earlier in the day, a joint session of Parliament saw all parties except PTI put aside their differences to stand against what they termed were attempts to derail the democratic process in the country prone to coups.

Heated exchanges between opposing camps that have regularly figured in the political discourse during the three-week impasse today moved inside the Parliament.

Impassioned speeches continued to be made in the Parliament with PTI leader Qureshi leading the party’s reply to countless accusations made by pro-government leaders.

900 militants killed since June: Army
Islamabad: Pakistan’s military today said 910 “terrorist” have been killed during a major offensive against militants launched in June in the troubled North Waziristan tribal region.

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