‘Political dialogue pointless with a gun to your head,’ says Bilawal Bhutto Zardari


Islamabad: Pakistan’s Foreign Minister Bilawal Bhutto Zardari on Thursday said that his party was trying to create consensus among the country’s political leadership on carrying out general elections, but also reiterated that any dialogue would be futile if it is carried out “with a gun to your head”.

The Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) Chairman’s remarks came as the country’s Chief Justice Umar Ata Bandial requested political leaders to hold negotiations earlier in the day after the Supreme Court resumed hearing a petition seeking to hold general elections for all national and provincial assemblies simultaneously.

Justice Bandial said that there could be no obstinacy in negotiations and that consensus could be built through bilateral talks, The Express Tribune newspaper reported- on Thursday. He asked the political leaders to meet and negotiate on the same day rather than after Eid. During the hearing, he said the elections could be held in July after Eid.

Despite Justice Bandial’s request, no dialogue was held between the highly-polarised political parties.

Later, the hearing was adjourned till April 27 after Attorney General for Pakistan (AGP) Mansoor Awan and PPP lawyer Farooq H Naek met Justice Bandial in his chamber and sought more time to hold dialogue with the opposition Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) — the  party led by ousted prime minister Imran Khan to evolve consensus on the matter, the report said.

“We have made attempts in the past to unify the political leadership [on elections] and are willing to do that again, but dialogue cannot take place with a gun to your head as no one will agree,” Bilawal, 34, said. He said the PPP supports holding elections on the same day and is prepared to talk to anyone to achieve this goal.

“Our efforts are aimed at saving democracy, which is currently in danger,” he said.

Bilawal hoped that the CJP would establish consensus within his institution before leaving his post. “Our history has never witnessed such fragmentation within the judiciary. The Supreme Court is currently undergoing a trial before the people,” he said.

Pakistan is currently in the grip of political and economic instability, compounded by the bitter tension between the judiciary and executive over the date of elections in the Punjab province. Parliament and the judiciary are divided over the holding of elections in the two provinces as the former has refused to authorise the funds to meet the expenditures.

The deadlock has increased political instability and with the economy already in freefall, the threat of default of the country has increased.

The federal government led by Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif asserts that it has the power to delay the polls and hold them after August. However, Khan’s PTI party was pushing for early polls and demanding that instead of delaying the Punjab elections, the National Assembly should be dissolved and general elections called in the country.

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‘Political dialogue pointless with a gun to your head,’ says Bilawal Bhutto Zardari
‘Political dialogue pointless with a gun to your head,’ says Bilawal Bhutto Zardari
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