Four demands: government ready to hold talks with PPP

The Sharif administration is ready to negotiate with the Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) on its four demands to avoid confrontation, informed sources revealed to Business Recorder.

Unlike in the past this time around a grand opposition appears to be forming to isolate Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) rather than to isolate the party in power, an anecdotal survey of political pundits in Islamabad revealed.

The key player for birthing the pro-government alliance is Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam-Fazl (JUI-F) chief Maulana Fazlur Rehman whose hatred for the PTI is almost visceral, they added. Informed sources told Business Recorder that the JUI-F chief will soon meet PPP co-chairman Asif Ali Zardari with a message from the Prime Minister.

“The message is, the government is ready to negotiate on Pakistan Peoples Party demands. If the issue is resolved through negotiations, then why would one [party] take to the streets”, a source said, who was privy to the Tuesday meeting between Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif and JUI-F chief Maulana Fazlur Rehman as well as the meeting of the latter with PML-Q chief Chaudhry Shujaat Hussain.

“If the Prime Minister is willing to meet our four demands we welcome it, but we will go ahead with our plan for the long-march till our demands are implemented”, said PPP spokesperson Senator Farhatullah Babar while talking to Business Recorder.

He said that PPP was open for talks on its four demands, adding if the government wants to negotiate with the party leadership, PPP would welcome it. “We are democratic people and doors of negotiations are never shut in the democratic system”, he added. Babar further stated that it would be up to the party’s central executive committee (CEC) to give final approval to a strategy in case the demands are fulfilled.

Babar made it clear that despite recent developments the party has not yet abandoned its planned protest until complete implementation of its demands. On the issue of Panama papers, he said that one of the four demands is the passage of a bill jointly moved by the opposition parties including the PTI in parliament.

“We have not abandoned our stance on fair and impartial investigation into Panama leaks and the party wants a thorough probe into the issue in light of the opposition parties’ bill”, he added.

Babar said that the party would not only build pressure inside the parliament but the option of street protest would remain open to pressure the government to implement the party’s demands and investigate the Panama leaks.

Bilawal had forwarded four points, which include appointment of a full-fledged foreign minister, formation of a parliamentary committee on national security, passage of the opposition’s bill seeking investigation into the Panama papers and implementation of the resolution passed during a multi-party conference on the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) held in May 2015.

Dr Arif Alvi, senior PTI leader, expressed disappointment at the PPP position during the ninth death anniversary of Benazir Bhutto: “We were expecting some announcement from Asif Ali Zardari on December 27 but what we heard was very disappointing…we were expecting Zardari to give a strong statement on Panama leaks that could be instrumental in bringing the other opposition parties on one platform but they [PPP, PML-N & JUI-F] are untied to promote their vested interests”.

He maintained that PPP would never take a firm stance against PML-N corruption as the two parties have pledged under the charter of democracy (CoD) to protect each other’s corruption. As far as the joint struggle on Panama leaks is concerned, Alvi said that PTI was waiting for the PPP to clarify its position but after the recent speeches by party chairman and cochairman PTI may go ahead with its own anti-government drive.

-Business Recorder