Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan has advised Pakistani opposition leaders, including former premier Nawaz Sharif, to soften their positions against the government and let the political transition take place smoothly.
The visiting Turkish premier, according to officials in Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N), has cautioned parties pushing to dislodge the government that political instability can hurt the interests of the country’s international backers ahead of a proposed drawdown from Afghanistan.
The message was conveyed to Nawaz Sharif and the Jamaat-e-Islami (JI) leadership at separate meetings with Erdogan on Tuesday.
At least two PML-N officials told The Express Tribune that the Turkish leader asked Nawaz to tone down the movement the party launched to force Prime Minister Yousaf Raza Gilani to step down after his conviction by the Supreme Court in a contempt case last month.
‘The message by Erdogan was loud and clear; there should be reconciliation among political groups in Pakistan,” a PML-N leader said after the meeting.
None of the three aides of Nawaz—Punjab Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif, National Assembly Opposition Leader Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan and Senator Ishaq Dar—who assisted the PML-N leaders in talks were available for direct comments.
Sources revealed that the Turkish premier said he wanted to see democracy flourish in Pakistan and it was possible only if political parties exhibited maturity.
It was not immediately known how Nawaz responded to Erdogan’s advice but a top leader said things might change slightly after the meeting.
Nawaz called an ‘informal’ meeting of his party top leaders in Punjab House today (Wednesday) ahead of an anti-government rally in Attock in the afternoon today.
Party spokesperson Senator Mushahidullah Khan, however, denied that the Turkish premier discussed domestic politics in his 45-minute meeting with Sharif in which only a few PML-N leaders participated.
While the PML-N was trying to conceal things, the Jamaat-e-Islami (JI) was more explicit to share Erdogan’s desire to see stability in Pakistan.
One of the JI leaders who attended the meeting said that the Turkish leader asked the religious group’s leaders to calm down their rhetoric for bringing down the government.
“While we do respect Turkish leadership, there are certain decisions we have to take according to our ground realities… and what political course to adopt should be our choice,” JI leader Liaquat Baloch said.
Published in The Express Tribune, May 23rd, 2012.