LAHORE: A day after the Inter-Services Public Relations (ISPR) clarified that it was, in fact, the government that had asked Chief of Army Staff General Raheel Sharif to “facilitate” negotiations with the protesting parties — the Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) and the Pakistan Awami Tehreek (PAT), Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif dismissed the ongoing sit-ins at D-chowk as a diminutive storm.

Seeming to have held his ground in the battle of nerves under way in the capital since August 14, Nawaz, who was speaking to reporters in Lahore, ridiculed PAT chief Dr Tahirul Qadri’s often cited idiom of the “roaring sea of supporters” in the capital, saying the firebrand cleric's dharna had become "a sea of empty chairs".

The prime minister, who appeared to be in a jocular mood, reiterated his position that there was no question of giving in to the “unacceptable demands” of the protesting parties.

When asked if he would pursue resolution of the deadlock by having a discussion with PTI Chairman Imran Khan as he had done on March 13 at Bani Gala, Nawaz said he would be happy to negotiate but that the conditions set by Imran were unacceptable.

“We have discussed our concerns openly before… but how did Imran Khan and Qadri sahab suddenly decide to launch on Islamabad the same day?”

Nawaz recently came under fire for reaching out to the military leadership to play the role of “facilitator” to end the ongoing sit-ins staged by PTI and PAT on Islamabad's D-chowk soon after the interior minister reached out to the army top brass to convince them that unless they got involved, a peaceful resolution of the crisis may not be possible.

The premier also lamented that the situation was beginning to hurt the country's economy and its place in the international community and went on to explain that the cancellation of the Maldivian president's visit was followed by the cancellation of a visit by Sri Lankan President Mahinda Rajapaksa.

He apprised the reporters of the upcoming visit of the Chinese president to Pakistan, saying his government was "collaborating with the Chinese administration on a number of projects and that the protests in Islamabad may again have an adverse impact".

Read more: Army as ‘facilitator’ was Nisar’s brainwave

Nawaz's government appears to be in a quandary, even more so after the ISPR's statement of Friday night and politicians on both sides trading barbs the whole time — each side accusing the other of inviting the army into the fray.



Crime against humanity
Updated 03 Dec 2021

Crime against humanity

The government has yet to fulfil its long-standing pledge to criminalise enforced disappearances.
03 Dec 2021

Revised valuations

THE revised property valuations notified by the FBR for 40 cities for the purpose of collecting federal taxes —...
03 Dec 2021

PWD await rights

ON the International Day of Disabled Persons, it is important to take stock of how far Pakistan has come in ensuring...
02 Dec 2021

Funding for polls

THE PTI government’s autocratic mentality is again on full display, even as it feigns adherence to the law....
02 Dec 2021

Soaring prices

PRICES are surging. And they are increasing at a much faster pace than anticipated, burdening millions of...
Ali Wazir’s bail
Updated 02 Dec 2021

Ali Wazir’s bail

IT has been a long time coming, but MNA and Pashtun Tahaffuz Movement leader Ali Wazir has finally been granted bail...