Govt rejects PDM’s ultimatum; neither PM to step down nor assemblies to be dissolved: Qureshi

Rejecting the ultimatum given by Pakistan Democratic Movement (PDM) as ‘unconstitutional and undemocratic’, Foreign Minister Makhdoom Shah Mehmood Qureshi on Tuesday emphatically stated that neither Prime Minister Imran Khan would step down, nor the assemblies would be dissolved.
Pakistan Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi

ISLAMABAD, Dec 15: Rejecting the ultimatum given by Pakistan Democratic Movement (PDM) as ‘unconstitutional and undemocratic’, Foreign Minister Makhdoom Shah Mehmood Qureshi on Tuesday emphatically stated that neither Prime Minister Imran Khan would step down, nor the assemblies would be dissolved.

“I want to clearly tell the PDM that we reject your ultimatum for the resignation of prime minister by January 31. The system of country will not be run on your wishes,” Shah Mehmood Qureshi, who is also the Vice Chairman of Pakistan Tehrik-e-Insaaf (PTI), told a news conference here.

He said if the opposition parties were really serious in resolving the issues of national and public importance such as inflation, provincial autonomy, National Finance Commission (NFC) Award etc, the government and opposition could hold dialogue with political reasoning.

Qureshi, however, made it clear that the government will not hold talks on personal cases or any NRO [National Reconciliation Ordinance]. “For personal cases or NRO, there is a clear cut no from PTI side,” he remarked.

The Foreign Minister advised the opposition parties to learn lesson from the history, saying such conduct of PDM could harm democracy in the country.

Qureshi described the PDM’s public meeting in Lahore on December 13 as complete flop and said even people of Lahore, where Pakistan Muslim League- Nawaz (PML-N) won all National and Provincial Assemblies seats except three, demonstrated political wisdom and rejected their narrative.

To a question, the Foreign Minister said that the ‘third force’ in the country did not want to get them involved in politics at all and were performing their professional responsibilities.

“Be it Coronavirus, locust attack or urban flooding in Karachi, they always fulfill their responsibilities for which we are thankful,” he remarked.

The Foreign Minister said that the opposition parties were pushing themselves to a blind alley, adding the saner elements in PDM parties should advise their leadership that their demands were not only unconstitutional but also against the interest of the country, in view of the current regional situation.

To a question on the media reports about return of Saudi Arabia ‘s remaining US $ 2 billion, he said Pakistan and Saudi Arabia enjoyed excellent relations. “We had excellent relations in the past, have the same at present and will continue to enjoy these relations in future as well,” he added.

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He said that Saudi Arabia always stood by Pakistan and supported it in difficult times including the deposit of US $ 3 billion in State Bank of Pakistan to help address the country’s balance of payment issue.

The Foreign Minister, however, mentioned that as Saudi Arabia like many other countries in the world, was also facing financial issues due to COVID-19 situation, it was the responsibility of Pakistan to pay back the amount.

He further pointed out that Saudi Arabia also extended its wholehearted support to Pakistan for a recent resolution on Kashmir from the forum of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC).

“Saudi Arabia put its full weight behind Pakistan for the resolution, which was supported by 57 Islamic countries,” Qureshi added.

About Pak-UAE relations, the Foreign Minister said that he would soon be meeting with his UAE counterpart.

Foreign Minister Makhdoom Shah Mehmood Qureshi said that PDM did not talk about any new thing in the December 13 public meeting and repeated the same what they had said in Gujranwala, Quetta, Peshawar and Multan public meetings.

He claimed PDM was not united on the issue of resignations from assemblies and according to inside information, Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) did not yet have clarity of view on this issue.

Qureshi further said that with Bilawal Bhutto Zardari being shown on the front, the real authority of decisions in PPP still rested with Asif Ali Zardari.

Similarly, the Foreign Minister said that the PML-N was also dived in two groups with one segment supporting the stance of Nawaz Sharif and Maryam Nawaz while the other backing Shahbaz Sharif.

If the PDM was really serious in giving resignations from assemblies, it should have asked the members to submit their resignations to the Speaker till December 31 instead of party heads, he remarked.

Qureshi further said that the PDM’s announcement for another meeting of party leaders on February 1 for consultation on the date of Long March also depicted ambiguity of views among the PDM parties.

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He said that another evidence of the failure of December 13 public meeting of PDM in Lahore was the reaction of business community and stock market which witnessed upward trend on the very next day.

The Foreign Minister lamented that the PDM leadership put the blame of their public meeting’s failure on media, saying they only considered the media people and TV channels independent when their analysis favored them.

Talking about the PDM’s Lahore declaration demanding the prime minister to step down by January 31, Qureshi said why Imran Khan, who had the people’s mandate, secured the votes of over 17 million people in 2018 elections and enjoyed majority in National Assembly, should step down.

He said that if PPP and PML-N each completed their five-year terms after the 2008 and 2013 general elections despite the allegations of rigging, why PTI should not complete its term.

Qureshi said if this practice of not accepting other’s mandate continued, it would lead to destabilization of the country and its economy.

The Foreign Minister referred to the statement of Bilawal Bhutto Zardari that “time is over for dialogue” and said it only depicted his political inexperience.“Time for dialogue is never over,” he said and added that in politics door were never shut.

Qureshi reminded Bilawal of his grandfather Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto’s position during the movement of Pakistan National Alliance (PNA) in 1977 and said that Bhutto had offered the then opposition parties to sit and resolve the issues through dialogue.

The Foreign Minister described the gathering of different political parties at PDM platform a “temporary unity” and said as such attitude could harm democracy, the opposition leaders should learn lesson from history.

Speaking about the sincerity of government for taking the opposition parties on board about issues of national interest,

he said the government had engaged the opposition for legislation on FATF (Financial Action Task Force) to get the country out of grey list, but the opposition attached conditions by presenting 34 amendments in National Accountability Bureau (NAB) law.

The Foreign Minister said that the opposition should not mix their personal issues and agendas with those of national ones.

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