Pakistan prime minister Nawaz Sharif on Saturday met former president Asif Zardari at Raiwind, the family estate of the Sharifs on the outskirts of Lahore, as the government sought help from its former political allies in its efforts to break the political deadlock in the country.
In the meantime, supporters of Imran Khan’s Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf and Tahir ul Qadri’s Pakistan Awami Tehreek, continued to stage their sit-in in front of Islamabad’s parliament house, insisting that they would continue their protest against Sharif till he resigned.
While talks continued between the PTI and the PAT separately with government teams, observers say that there is little outcome expected from them given the hardline stance taken by both Khan and Qadri. “It seems that Qadri is showing more flexibility but one wonders how much he will concede given that he has held such a hard line stance for the past week,” commented political analyst Imtiaz Gul.
In the case of Khan, the stance taken has not changed much. Khan has demanded the resignation of prime minister Sharif as a pre-condition to any serious discussion. In exchange, both the government and other political parties in the country have insisted on constitutional solutions to the deadlock.
On Friday, interior minister Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan drew attention to the unhygienic conditions in which the protestors were living in Islamabad and pleaded to Imran Khan to let them go back home. “We are ready to have serious discussions with you under the ambit of the constitution,” he said.
In reply, Imran Khan said that he would only talk once Nawaz Sharif had resigned. “We will stay here till that happens,” he told supporters. The mood at Khan’s camp is positive with many supporters believing that the government will give way soon. “Because they are in the wrong, the pressure on them is extreme,” said party leader Asad Omar.