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For the first time since coming to power, the Pakistan Democratic Movement’s (PDM) federal government has initiated dialogue with the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI), sources told The Express Tribune.

The development came as Finance Minister Ishaq Dar met with President Arif Alvi on Friday and offered dialogue to resolve political issues. The sources said the president told him that his message would be conveyed to the PTI leadership.

In response to the government offer, the PTI leadership also showed willingness and authorised the president to engage with the government, the sources added.
Dar held two meetings with the president in the last three days.

“The PTI wants the announcement of date for the early general elections. If the government agrees, then the PTI is willing to re-join parliament for a dialogue on the electoral framework.”

It is also reported that the purpose of the meeting between the finance minister and the president was to ensure that the process regarding the appointment of new army chief would culminate smoothly.

Under the law, the president can hold back the summary with regard to the appointment of army chief sent to him by the prime for 25 days. The sources, however, said the appointment of an army chief is a very sensitive matter, and it will not be in the national interest to delay the process.

A PTI leader told The Express Tribune that if the government appoints an army chief in violation of the settled process, then the president may hold the summary for reconsideration.

He, however, said that the party would not dispute the appointment of any general as the army chief. “Now, the appointment of the new chief is not an issue of PTI,” he added.

However, he remarked that the civil and military leadership are not on the same page regarding the appointment of the new chief.

The Express Tribune has learned on good authority that the summary regarding the appointment of the chief of army staff (COAS) is yet to be initiated by the defence ministry.

One source claimed that the summary can be initiated anytime in the next 36 hours, but if the summary is delayed further, then the government may approve the appointment of the new army chief through the federal cabinet.

However, a Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) leader rejected the report regarding differences between the civil and military leadership on the matter. He said that the decision has already been taken and the announcement would be made next week.

Meanwhile, Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif consulted former president Asif Ali Zardari and PDM chief Maulana Fazlur Rehman.

On the other hand, Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) Chairman Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari has warned the president that in case any mess is created in the process, then he would be held responsible.

Legal experts said that matter may come up in the Supreme Court on the ground of not following the already settled process regarding the appointment of the chief.

Political analysts have said that the new COAS will have many challenges such as the worsening economic situation due to political instability and PTI chief Imran Khan’s anti-establishment narrative.

The PTI is expecting the new army chief to ensure early general elections while the PDM government wants their government to function smoothly until next September.

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