Information Minister Fawad Chaudhry said on Thursday that the government and opposition were on the same page regarding the government's strategy to tackle the law and order situation in the wake of protests spearheaded by religio-political parties against the acquittal of Aasia Bibi.
A government delegation, upon Prime Minister Imran Khan's directives, met with Leader of the Opposition Shahbaz Sharif, after which the information minister briefed the press in Islamabad.
"We have taken Shahbaz Sharif and Bilawal Bhutto into confidence regarding the future course of action," Chaudhry said, adding that the opposition had assured the government of "full cooperation" on its strategy.
"We will move forward with the opposition's support," he said, adding that any steps taken by the government would be in accordance with the wishes of the Assembly.
The information minister said that two focal persons have been appointed — Naveed Qamar by the Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) and Ayaz Sadiq by the Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N).
Chaudhry said the government had also initiated "talks" with the protesters.
"Negotiations are ongoing in Lahore and Rawalpindi and I will be able to say something about them later," he said, but warned that violence would not be ignored.
"All those found involved in defying the writ of the state will have to pay the price."
'Will not support use of force'
Making it clear that the opposition would not stand by the government in case of a crackdown on mobs, opposition leader Shahbaz Sharif urged the federal government to resolve the ongoing crisis with "political shrewdness".
"The supremacy of the Constitution is the foundation of this country. Institutions should not be disrespected."
"[However,] we will not support the use of force under any situation," Shahbaz made clear.