Ahead of two major anti-government protest marches, the ruling Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) decided on Monday to pursue talks with Imran Khan’s Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf – but to deal with the Pakistan Awami Tehreek of Dr Tahirul Qadri through legal means, The Express Tribune has learnt.
The PTI has repeatedly said that the “time for negotiations is over” – but the government will still try to persuade the opposition party to call off its Azadi March scheduled for August 14 at D-Chowk in Islamabad, a senior government official told The Express Tribune. On the other hand, the government would approach the Punjab legal department to review Dr Qadri’s latest speech wherein he allegedly incited his supporters to violence against the police.
These decisions were taken at a meeting of the PML-N senior leadership on Tuesday. The huddle was convened by Nawaz Sharif at the Prime Minister House to brainstorm ways to tackle Dr Qadri’s August 10 ‘Martyrs Day’ and PTI’s Azadi March. Punjab Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif, Governor Chaudhry Muhammad Sarwar, Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa Governor Sardar Mehtab Abbasi and members of the federal cabinet, including Interior Minister Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan, attended the meeting.
“We still have 10 days left and we hope the PTI might change its mind and engage in serious talks,” a senior government official told The Express Tribune. The real issue is electoral reforms and a parliamentary committee has already been constituted for this purpose, he added. “If the PTI wants to expand its scope, it should come up with its proposals,” he added.
Asked if the government has made any backchannel contact with Imran, he said, “There had been efforts in the past and more would follow in the coming days.” Last week there were media reports about discreet visits of Chaudhry Nisar to Imran’s Bani Gala residence. But it was Nisar who first denied any such interactions and then PTI followed suit.
But what would be the government’s response in case the PTI lawmakers resign from the assemblies? The official referred to a recent statement by the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) that there would be by-elections on vacated seats.
Earlier in the day, the prime minister chaired a meeting to review the progress on Pakistan-China Joint Commission energy projects, including early harvest projects. “We are focused on resolving problems of the country and we are on right track and by the grace of Almighty we will be able to solve issues confronting Pakistan.
Those involved in negative politics want to create problems for Pakistan rather than solving them,” a PM office statement quoted the prime minister as saying after the meeting.
Published in The Express Tribune, August 5th, 2014.