Sunday, 21st December 2014

Pakistan govt, opposition revive talks to defuse tensions


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Pakistani supporters of Canada-based preacher Tahir-ul-Qadri and supporter of opposition politician Imran Khan march past security personnel as they try to reach the Parliament during a protest march in Islamabad on August 19, 2014. (AFP /Aamir Qureshi)Protestors shout slogans in eastern Pakistan's Lahore on August 8, 2014. Hundreds of supporters of a religious leader, Tahir ul Qadri clashed with the police after they started removal of containers from the roads placed by the authorities to stop a rally against the government on August 10. (Xinhua Files/Sajjad)A Pakistani government's negotiation team late Friday revived talks with an opposition party to defuse political tensions and end protest sit-in that has affected political and economic activities in Islamabad.

Pakistan Tehrik-e-Insaf's chief, Imran Khan, opened dialogue Wednesday. But the PTI later suspended the talks over a "crackdown " on its activists.

The government had denied arrests of the PTI workers and also ruled out use of force to disperse the protesters.

The party's supporters have staged a sit-in outside the parliament building since August 14 to press for the resignation of Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif.

The prime minister has ruled out resignation and warned that his resignation could lead to a deeper crisis in the country.

Interior Minister Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan on Friday reiterated the government's offer of dialogue to discuss PTI's demands.

"We have revived the talks but we have not withdrawn our demands, including resignation of the prime minister," Shah Mehmood Qureshi, deputy chief of PTI told reporters at a hotel ahead of the talks.

Hours before the talks, some of PTI's lawmakers submitted their resignations to the National Assembly as part of the protest plan, party leaders said.

Speaker of the National Assembly, Lower House of the parliament, is authorized to accept or reject the resignations. He will notify the Election Commission of his decision if he accepts the resignations.

Both houses of the parliament have announced support for Nawaz Sharif and rejected his resignation calls as "unconstitutional."

A religious leader, Dr Tahir ul Qadri, is also leading a protest sit-in in Islamabad against the government and wants to bring out a "revolution."

He also suspended talks with the government this week and has not yet decided to end the deadlock. His supporters have continued protest.

The interior minister on Friday said the country's military intelligence agency has warned against a possible attack on the protesters. He said senior officials of the Inter-Services Intelligence have informed him that an explosive-packed vehicle could hit the participants.

The two opposition leaders have ignored the government's warning.

ISLAMABAD, Aug. 23 (Xinhua)


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