As the stalemate between the government and the Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf continued, the latter held discussions with the heads of opposition parties in the National Assembly on Monday to get their support for its ‘in-house change formula’. The PTI camp believes that it has offered the best possible way out, allowing the PML-N to stay in power while the proposed Supreme Court judicial commission carries out the investigation into allegations about election rigging.
Therefore, the PTI leadership, according to a party insider, has decided to share its new plan of action with opposition parties in a bid to secure their support. Jamaat-i-Islami Emir Sirajul Haq held a detailed discussion with PTI negotiators involved in talks with the government at the residence of the party’s general secretary, Jahangir Tareen. Later in the evening, PTI Chairman Imran Khan had a telephonic conversation with PPP Co-chairman Asif Ali Zardari. Talking to newsmen after meeting the JI emir, PTI leader Shah Mahmood Qureshi reiterated his party’s stance and said it had shown enough flexibility by climbing down from its original demands and now it was the government’s turn to respond.
“We are not in a position to offer more than this,” he added. Before talks with the government, the PTI’s main demand was the resignation of the prime minister, followed by dissolution of assemblies and setting up a national government to investigate the alleged election rigging and holding mid-term elections. However, after three rounds of talks ending on Saturday night, the PTI proposed resignation by the prime minister only for 30 days. According to the PTI formula, in the absence of the prime minister the ruling PML-N may bring in anybody from within as prime minister without any change in the federal cabinet. On the possibility of resuming talks with the government, Mr Qureshi said the PTI was waiting for the government’s response. However, the counter rallies which the PML-N had staged showed that they were out on a confrontational path.
The JI chief, who had been shuttling between the PTI and government camps for a peaceful resolution of the standoff, said he had not lost hope and would urge other parties also to come forward and play their role. “I am happy that Imran Khan has shown flexibility and the government has accepted all demands of the PTI except the resignation of the prime minister. We can still try and find a middle ground,” said Mr Haq. The JI leader even claimed to have a recipe which can still resolve the crisis, but refused to share it with the media. “I will meet the government delegation soon. Let me convince them first and then I will share it with the media.” Mr Haq once again promised to give good news in the form of an agreement between the protesting parties and the government.
In his telephonic talk with Mr Zardari, according to a PTI source, Imran Khan explained the reason why his party was pressing for the resignation of the prime minister, even for a month. PTI Information Secretary Dr Shireen Mazari was not available to explain what had transpired between the two leaders, but a PTI core committee member said Imran Khan told the PPP leader categorically that the Azadi march would continue till its objective was achieved. He said if the PPP agreed to the PTI’s proposal for an in-house change it would put a huge pressure on the government. A similar message had been delivered to the MQM leadership, he said.
A PML-N source close to the prime minister’s office told Dawn that the government was ready to hold talks with the PTI on all its demands, except the resignation of the prime minister. “Having unconditional support of all political parties represented in the two houses of parliament the prime minister is not going anywhere,” he said. He said doors would remain open for talks, but as far as the resignation of the prime minister was concerned, only Mr Nawaz Sharif himself could decide because no-one in the party could even dare to ask him to consider it. -dawn