Pakistan National Assembly speaker wants dialogue between political parties

Raja Pervaiz Ashraf, National Assembly Speaker, laments that the country has not been able to progress due to the practice of bringing up issues of the past, in an interview recently.


National Assembly Speaker Raja Pervaiz Ashraf speaks in an interview on November 5. PHOTO: DAWN

November 6, 2023

ISLAMABAD – National Assembly (NA) Speaker Raja Pervaiz Ashraf has called for a dialogue between all political entities while lamenting that the country has not been able to progress due to the practice of bringing up issues of the past.

The speaker made the remarks in an interview on Dawn News show Doosra Rukh, which will be aired tonight at 7pm. During the interview, he was asked about the 2017 Faizabad sit-in and whether “all players and facts should come to light”.

The case has been thrust into the limelight once again as the Supreme Court has been hearing challenges to the Feb 6, 2019 judgement in the case.

“I want to say that we have to look at the outcome of whatever has been happening. Even after 75-76 years we have not been able to stand on our own feet. So we have to think about whether we remain stuck in the past or if is there something which we should take a step towards. There is not a lot of distance between the present and the future.

“I still think, and I have said so many times before […] to do consultation and sit everyone down [and] open a dialogue. Intra-political party dialogue should be opened,” Ashraf said.

Asked whether calls for holding former army officials accountable were appropriate, Ashraf said, “Okay then keep on harping and whining about it. You won’t be able to move forward one inch.

“This practice is not right where after every two or three years you open an issue of the past. Nations which have progressed are forward-looking people.”

The NA speaker criticised bringing up past issues repeatedly but remaining silent at the time it occurred.

“This is a sign of cowardice. A living nation calls out a wrong action when it is being committed,” he said.

He lamented that in Pakistan issues were raised after five years and those who had said something differently previously would change their narratives.

“The nation is getting confused from all this and we are spreading hate. Now there should be an intra-party dialogue and a new social contract should be devised in which all stakeholders should have an input,” Ashraf reiterated.

The NA speaker said that any issues with the military should be resolved by taking it up with the institution privately behind closed quarters instead of in public or on social media. He said the latter only benefitted the country’s enemies.

Ashraf was also asked about President Dr Arif Alvi’s performance, to which he said that the position was Pakistan’s highest constitutional office.

“What compulsions were there that this perception emerged that he (Alvi) represents the PTI, more than the presidency? So this is not a positive thing and he should refrain from it.”

On the announcement of the election date, Ashraf said that it would have been best if political parties had dealt with the matter themselves instead of the Supreme Court having to get involved.

However, he said that he had to accept the court’s verdict on the matter since the apex court was the highest constitutional body in the country regarding legal interpretation and judgements.

Calls for accountability in Faizabad case

Despite earlier distancing itself from the demand for holding those who were involved in the ouster of party supremo Nawaz Sharif from power accountable, the PML-N appears to be again pushing for it, though indirectly.

On Friday, PML-N’s outspoken leader Mian Javed Latif, who is considered close to the party’s Senior Vice President Maryam Nawaz, took on former Inter Services Intelligence chief Gen Faiz Hamid and declared him the ‘mastermind’ of the 2017 Faizabad sit-in.

Latif had also demanded that all those who “ruined the country” should be exposed before the Feb 8 elections.

Another senior PML-N leader, Khawaja Asif, had also upped the ante against Gen Hamid, terming him the mastermind of the Faizabad sit-in in a TV show recently.

Journalist Absar Alam had told the apex court that “certain personnel of the armed forces were trying to incite violence at the time of the Tehreek-i-Labbaik Pakistan sit-in”.

He had also alleged that when he ordered to shut down Channel 92 for allegedly inciting violence through their live coverage of the Faizabad sit-in, Gen Faiz Hamid had called him to back the media outlet.

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