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Government Postpones All Parties Conference

Information minister says summit will be rescheduled after consultations with allies

by Staff Report

Information Minister Marriyum Aurangzeb. Photo courtesy PID

An All-Parties Conference (APC) convened by the ruling coalition to discuss prevailing security and economic challenges has been indefinitely postponed, with Information Minister Marriyum Aurangzeb saying it will be rescheduled in consultation with allies.

Originally slated for Feb. 7 (today), the APC was initially postponed to Feb. 9, with Aurangzeb announcing the decision in a posting on Twitter. While she did not provide any reason for this delay, the government’s desire for the opposition Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) to attend was reported to have been a factor in this decision.

Just a day after the initial postponement, on Tuesday morning, the information minister posted another tweet, this time announcing an indefinite delay. Citing Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif’s upcoming visit to Ankara to “express condolences to the people of Turkey for the destruction and loss of life caused by a devastating earthquake,” she said the APC was now being postponed once again. “A new date will be announced in consultation with allies,” she added.

A 7.8-magnitude earthquake hit Turkey and Syria on Monday, with initial estimates suggesting more than 4,000 people have been killed. Authorities have warned that this death toll might rise as ongoing rescue operations have yet to clear rubble and there might be people trapped beneath buildings that have collapsed due to the tremors.

Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif, announcing the APC last week, had said all major political parties of the country would be invited to participate. An invitation was subsequently extended to the PTI though the party has complained about receiving a “verbal invitation” and not a “formal” one. While the party had initially claimed it would not attend, public backlash over the decision has led it to hint at a course reversal, with senior leaders now claiming they would “deliberate” on attending after they receive a “formal” invitation.

According to sources within the government, the APC aims to discuss the resurgence of terrorism and the prevailing economic crunch, especially ahead of the revival of a stalled bailout with the International Monetary Fund (IMF), which is widely perceived to result in rampant inflation and higher utility tariffs that the country’s impoverished can ill-afford.

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