Former information minister Chaudhry Fawad Hussain confirmed on Monday that “informal communications” between the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) and the federal government, pertaining to the snap elections, had begun.
Former premier Imran Khan last week gave the federal government an ultimatum to either “sit and talk and give a date for the general elections” or “we will dissolve the assemblies”.
“Either they can sit with us and talk, gave us a date for the general elections […] or else we will dissolve our assemblies,” he had said.
Imran’s offer came after the PTI leadership green-lit plans to dissolve the KP and Punjab assemblies after Imran said the party would no longer be part of the “corrupt system” on the last day of his long march in Rawalpindi in November.
Talking to the media in Lahore, Chaudhry Fawad said that “informal communication” with the federal government had begun.
“We are trying to make the coalition representatives, especially Finance Minister Ishaq Dar […] who is more [determined] from the PML-N […] we told the president […] the problem is that the government is rapidly becoming irrelevant due to the economic situation. We have tried to make them understand that no system other than elections can bring stability in the country,” he told reporters.
“Ishaq Dar told the president that [the government] is ready for elections, but they first need to consult Nawaz Sharif,” the former information minister revealed. “Ishaq Dar said he would consult Nawaz Sharif and inform President Arif Alvi. However, he hasn’t responded yet and we are still waiting,” he said.
Fawad also asserted that his party was seeking “betterment” in ties with the armed forces and judiciary, not “deterioration” of their relationship. “We don’t want our differences with the army or judiciary to increase,” he said. “We are trying continuously that our differences with the institutions decrease. But we are seeing that constantly, despite our efforts for betterment, [there is] deterioration in ties with the judiciary and the armed forces. Some elements are exacerbating the differences,” the PTI leader claimed. He said that some people, “maybe the government, are trying to ruin the relations we are trying to improve”.
Talking about the dissolution of assemblies, the former minister said that the PTI had decided to hold a meeting with the senior leadership today (Tuesday).
He admitted that there was a difference of opinion among lawmakers over submitting their resignations, but in the same breath contended that Imran had the final call on the matter.
“In this regard, we have kicked off meetings. We have called Lahore’s MNAs and MPAs to hear them out. (On Tuesday), Imran has called a meeting of the party’s senior leaders to mull over a strategy relating to politics and dissolution [of assemblies].”
The PTI leader also highlighted that the party was receiving notices from the Federal Investigation Agency (FIA). “There are reports in the media suggesting that the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) is initiating action for the disqualification of Imran as the party chief. It is a mistake […] the political scene in Pakistan is incomplete without Imran Khan,” he added.
However, talking to a private news channel, Chaudhry Fawad said if talks regarding the elections did not materialise by December 20, the party would dissolve the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and Punjab assemblies on December 21. “They (coalition parties in the Centre) are afraid of holding elections as they fear the PTI will win,” he said.
No immediate dissolution
On the other hand, Punjab Chief Minister Parvez Elahi said that the provincial assembly would “continue the same way for the next four months until March”, with his remarks being in contrast to the repeated threats of the assembly’s immediate dissolution by Imran Khan.
Elahi, who is in power in Punjab despite a handful of MPAs due to the PTI’s support, has on multiple occasions said that he would follow Imran’s instructions. He again reiterated his intentions to oblige, but the timeline he outlined seemed to be in conflict with that of Imran’s. Talking to a private news channel, the PML-Q leader closed the door on Punjab Assembly’s dissolution any time before March. “My stance is the same … I will dissolve [the assembly] whenever he (Imran) tells me to,” he said. “That decision has been made. However, now you’d have to think of its pros and cons. For that, we will have to hold talks.”
Elahi cited Imran’s mobility as the reason why the assemblies would continue until March, saying that consultation over a strategy could not take place until Imran was completely healthy.