PTI rejects PDM’s 31 Jan deadline

ISLAMABAD: Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi has categorically rejected the demands of the alliance of opposition parties the Pakistan Democratic Movement (PDM), saying these are undemocratic and unconstitutional.

Addressing a news conference in Islamabad two days after the opposition alliance, also known as the Pakistan Democratic Movement (PDM), held its sixth power show in Lahore, Qureshi said the opposition deadline calling on the prime minister to resign and dissolve assemblies by January 31 stands rejected.

“We reject your ultimatum. You say the prime minister should resign by Jan 31. We are categorically saying the prime minister of Pakistan will not step down.

“You say assemblies should be dissolved. The prime minister has said and I am repeating [his words], assemblies will not be dissolved. The deadline stands rejected,” he said.

However, Qureshi said that the decision did not indicate the government’s “stubbornness”, and hinted at the possibility of a dialogue. “We are political people and are open-minded”.

The PTI leader regretted that the opposition parties are giving priority to their personal interests over the national interests. He, however, said we are ready for talks on electoral reforms, issues of inflation, provincial autonomy and the NFC.

He asked the opposition for the undemocratic, unconstitutional demand when they claim to be running a movement founded on democratic values. “Let’s assume that there is an election, and you get the mandate. Why would the PTI then accept your mandate? Where will this political instability then lead us?” the PTI leader asked.

Referring to the stance of opposition parties on dialogue, Qureshi reminded that doors of negotiations in politics are never shut. He said the posture of the opposition parties may damage the democracy.

He said the alliance of opposition parties has failed to mobilise public support and people showed their indifference to the Lahore gathering which was a meaningless activity as it carried no new announcement.

Qureshi said there is no consensus amongst the PDM over the issue of resignations from the assemblies and the long march. He said the PPP’s policy is ambiguous as the decisions of the party are being taken not by PPP Chairman Bilawal Bhutto Zardari but former President Asif Ali Zardari.

During today’s press conference, Qureshi claimed there was no consensus in the PDM over the matter of resignations. He also claimed that there were two factions in the PML-N — one which agreed with PML-N President and Leader of the Opposition in the National Assembly Shehbaz Sharif and the other which agreed with PML-N Vice President Maryam Nawaz.

“If you have consensus on resignations and are serious, then on the 31st, your resignations should reach the speaker and not the leadership of your parties. Submitting resignations to leadership is just for show.”

Qureshi said that there was “no unity” in the PDM over the matter of the proposed long march either.

“Why am I saying this? Because they said [in their presser] that a meeting of the PDM will be called on Feb 1 and then the decision will be taken after discussion and a date will be given.”

As part of the anti-government movement, Rehman said lawmakers from PDM member parties in the national and provincial assemblies will hand in their resignations to their respective party heads by December 31.

Fazlur Rehman had said that if the government refused to quit by Jan 31, a meeting of the PDM’s leadership on February 1 will announce a long march towards Islamabad, the date of which will also be decided during the meeting.

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