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Islamabad siege: Deadlock continues as govt, protesters hold talks

Last Updated: Thursday, August 21, 2014 - 13:46

Zee Media Bureau

Islamabad: Amid signs of thaw, Pakistan government negotiators met anti-government protest leaders for the second day on Thursday to strike a deal to end the political crisis and siege of the Parliament.

Thousands of supporters of Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf chairman Imran Khan and firebrand cleric Tahir-ul-Qadri have been demonstrating outside the Parliament building here demanding the resignation of Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif.

As per media reports, the government was represented by Information Minister Pervaiz Rashid and Punjab Governor Chaudhry Sarwar in the talks that were held at a city hotel.

Imran Khan has made six demands: that Nawaz Sharif quit as prime minister, mid-term elections be held, electoral reforms be made, an impartial interim government be formed through consensus among political parties, all members of Election Commission of Pakistan resign and Article 6 the constitution be invoked against those involved in the "rigging" of the May 2013 general elections be punished.
The protesters softened there stand after the all powerful Pakistan Army refused to intervene and asked the two sides to hold "meaningful" talks.

Today`s meeting came a day after a similar attempt failed to make any headway over the issue of Sharif`s resignation.

Khan had taken position that he will not enter into talks until Sharif resigned but softened his stance later.

A government official said that Khan has already come to the limit of the protest after leading workers to Red Zone that houses important government buildings including the Parliament House, Prime Minister House, President House, the Supreme Court besides embassies.
"He cannot go anywhere from here. If he storms PM House or Parliament, he faces army soldiers," he said.

It is widely believed that both government and Khan are desperate for a way out of the deadlock. But Khan has created hype and wants to go away with some solid gains.

Also, the first round of talks between government and Pakistan Awami Tahreek of Qadri couldn`t make progress as the cleric`s representatives demanded Sharif`s resignation.

A source privy to the meeting said that the two sides discussed the so called "revolutionary agenda" of Qadri and government promised to consider its points relate to socio-economic progress and electoral reforms.

The PAT during its negotiations with the government committee stuck to one of its central demands that those responsible for the Model Town incident be brought to book.

The cleric had earlier refused offer of talks but rushed to it after army made it clear that there was no chance of mediation by it.

The Supreme Court yesterday summoned both Khan and Qadri for hearing a petition against the siege of Parliament today.

With agency inputs

First Published: Thursday, August 21, 2014 - 13:16

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