An All Parties Conference (APC) scheduled for February 9 to discuss ways to overcome current national challenges was postponed due to Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif’s visit to Turkey to offer condolences over the devastating earthquake.
Federal Information Minister Marium Aurangzeb announced the development on Twitter, stating that the new date for the mega-political gathering will be announced after consultation with allies.
She said the prime minister would leave for Ankara on Wednesday morning, where he would offer his condolences to Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan for the loss of life in the powerful earthquakes.
The confirmed death toll in both countries has risen above 4,000 after a spate of strong earthquakes near the Turkey-Syria border – the largest of which was a massive 7.8 magnitude.
Last week, Prime Minister Shehbaz extended invitations to leaders of political parties, including PTI Chairman Imran Khan, to discuss ways to overcome the current national challenges.
Following the invitation, PTI general secretary Asad Umar announced that party president Imran Khan had decided not to attend the rally. “How can we sit with the government when it is violating the Constitution, registering sedition cases against us and arresting our people,” the former planning minister said. In a media briefing on February 6, he said that threats and talks cannot go hand in hand.
Later, it emerged that the Imran Khan-led party was considering attending the rally on the recommendation of former information minister Fawad Chaudhry. The party, sources said, was considering nominating Sheikh Rasheed and Azam Swati as party representatives for the APC.
The debate was called as the country faces a rise in terrorist incidents. On January 30, a suicide bombing at a mosque in Peshawar’s Police Lines area killed at least 101 people, mostly police officers, making it one of the deadliest attacks on security officials.
The South Asian country is also facing financial woes amid depleted foreign reserves that have dwindled to $3.09 billion, barely covering less than three weeks of imports.