The all Party meeting called by Pakistan President Gen. Pervez Musharraf in Islamabad on Wednesday to discuss his forthcoming visit to India received a setback with former Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto's Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) and deposed Premier Nawaz Sharif's Pakistan Muslim League (PML) deciding to boycott it.
The Central Executive Committee of the PPP, which met on Monday evening, decided to stay away from the meeting to protest against four major issues including Government's failure to announce the date for elections and Musharraf's taking over as president.
PPP's Deputy General Secretary Raza Rabbani said "Gen. Musharraf's regime lacked the constitutional and popular mandate to settle vital national issues, therefore it is meaningless for the party to attend the meeting convened by him."
The Party has been advocating a dialogue between India and Pakistan to resolve all outstanding issues, including Kashmir. But the dialogue should be held by elected representatives than coup leaders, he said, adding the party has referred the decision (of boycotting the meeting) for approval of Benazir Bhutto.
The party said it has decided to boycott the meeting to also protest over other issues like ban on political activities and victimisation of political leaders, particularly of Bhutto and retrenchment of workers and price hike.
Rabbani said Benazir was expected to convey her decision before the meeting of the 16 party Alliance for Restoration of Democracy (ARD) on Tuesday.
The PPP's decision followed a similar decision taken by PML, which said it would also try and prevail on the ARD and other parties to boycott the meeting.
The ARD, in which PML and some of the other mainstream parties are constituents, will hold a meeting at Lahore on Tuesday evening to decide whether to attend the meeting or not.
The meeting, called by Gen. Musharraf after he took over as the President on June 20 angered many political parties which termed his move as illegal and unconstitutional.
However, there are indications that other parties including the Muthiahada Quami Movement, (MQM) Jamat-e-Islami, cricketer-turned-politician, Imaran Khans Ensaf-e-Teherik and other smaller parties would attend the meeting, for which 24 leaders have been invited.
Ahead of the all party meeting, Gen. Musharraf has invited editors and journalists for a meeting on Tuesday to discuss his India visit as well as the stand to be taken on Kashmir issue. (PTI)