PML-N Vice President Maryam Nawaz on Thursday hinted at the possibility of a dialogue between her party and the army from the platform of the Pakistan Democratic Movement (PDM) — an alliance of 11 opposition parties — but said that for any such talks to happen, they would have to be held in front of the public — not in secret — and only after the "selected" government was sent packing.
In an interview with BBC Urdu, Maryam revealed that members of the security establishment had reached out to "many people around me but nobody has directly contacted me".
On a question whether she was ready to hold talks with the current army leadership, whom the PML-N supremo and her father, Nawaz Sharif, has accused of being behind his "ouster" as prime minister, Maryam said that the "possibility of initiation of dialogue from the PDM's platform could be thought about but after the selected government has been sent home".
"The army is our institution. We will definitely talk but within the limits of the Constitution. Talks will be held within the limits prescribed by the Constitution and it will be in front of the public, not in secret."
Maryam said that she was not "against the institution but if we are to move forward, the selected government will have to go".
In September, PML-N supremo Nawaz had banned his party members from holding individual, private or delegation-level meetings with the country's military leadership. He said if necessitated by national security or constitutional requirements, such meetings in the future will be approved by the party's leadership and will be made public.
Maryam said she was ready to talk to "all stakeholders". However, when asked whether she would talk to the incumbent government of Prime Minister Imran Khan, Maryam said that "the dialogue will be held with the people of Pakistan. It is being held with the people of Pakistan and it is going so well that the forces and the fake government are worried.
"They are so worried they don't know how to react and they're making such mistakes in their confusion that the mind is shocked," she said, adding that the people of the nation were the "real stakeholders".
'PML-N's politics not going towards dead-end'
In response to another question, Maryam said that the PML-N's politics was not headed towards a dead-end. Instead, she continued, the ones going towards a dead-end were those who had tried to make this temporary [government].
"Wherever we are going, whether it be Gujranwala, Karachi, Quetta or Gilgit Baltistan, only one narrative is echoing: vote ko izzat do (honour the vote) and riyasat ke upar riyasat mat banao (do not make a state above the state).
She added that the public had seen where this was going, which was not towards a dead-end but towards the supremacy of the Constitution and the law.
With regards to PPP Chairperson Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari's remarks that he was waiting for PML-N supremo Nawaz Sharif to bring forth evidence of his claims that the army interfered in elections, Maryam said her father had said the words but the evidence was in front of the public.
In an interview last week, Bilawal had said he was "shocked" when Nawaz named Chief of Army Staff Gen Qamar Jawed Bajwa and Chief of the Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) Lt Gen Faiz Hameed for being behind his ouster as premier, "bringing Imran Khan into power" and making a "state above a state".
However, he went on to say that Nawaz — who has served as the country's prime minister thrice — would not have taken the names of Gen Bajwa and Gen Faiz without evidence.
He said he would "wait for Nawaz to bring forward evidence supporting his claims".
During today's interview, Maryam said: "The reality of Shaukat Aziz Siddiqui, Judge Arshad Malik and Dawn Leaks is in front of you. When you do not extend the tenure of [an army] chief, they start talking about something based on falsehood such as Dawn Leaks."
She emphasised that both the PML-N and the PPP had their own stance and the PML-N's stance was clarified by Nawaz Sharif.
'Karachi incident' report
Regarding the recent inquiry report on the alleged kidnapping of the Sindh inspector general of police in order to force him to sign the arrest warrant for her husband, retired Captain Mohammad Safdar, she said people had not gotten their answers. Rather, more questions had been raised.
"You are telling the people that some overzealous officers did this under pressure from the public's reaction. What public reaction was there? Those fake people who registered the case and then ran away, those three, four people are what you call public pressure?" she questioned.
She said that according to the Constitution, it was not the job of the institutions to give a reply to public reaction but the government's.
"The responsibility of institutions is to fulfill their professional responsibilities, not show overzealousness. Their work is not emotions but fulfilling their constitutional and professional obligations. If someone did in fact do this out of emotions, then it is a huge moment of reflection for the institution and Pakistan."
However, she said she "did not believe that such a thing happened. I believe some junior officers were sacrificed. It is very sad."
Imran Khan not a 'real problem'
During the interview, Maryam declined to comment about a "minus-Imran formula", saying it would be seen when the time came for it. She termed it a "sin" to hold talks with the incumbent government, saying that Imran Khan's government would have to go in order to take the country out of a recession, new and fair elections would have to be held and a representative of the people would have to be chosen to lead the country.
She said that she did not consider Imran Khan or the people around him a "real problem" because she did not think they were political people. "My party and I are against the thought that they represent," she said, adding that they represented everything that has to be erased from the country.
"Therefore, I consider any alliance with PTI equivalent to forgiving them which is not fair," she said. "I think it is time for their accountability not for an alliance with them now that they have been weakened."
Maryam, however, said that talks could be held with other political parties.
GB's provincial status
When asked whether the PML-N would support the PTI government in drafting legislation to give Gilgit-Baltistan the status of a province, Maryam said "just like with other projects, the PTI has also given their name to [the decision to grant GB provincial status]".
"The people know whose plan this was," she said, while expressing the hope that the people of GB would show confidence in the PML-N, who would not only turn the region into a province but also oversee the constitutional amendments needed to give it its fair share in the NFC (National Finance Commission) award."
She claimed that the PTI government would not bring the matter to Parliament but the PML-N would since it was only their promise.
Responding to allegations that she talks mostly about herself or her father in her speeches, Maryam said: "Wherever I go, I see supporters of Nawaz Sharif. If I don't tell them what they have come to hear, what the whole of Pakistan wants to hear, what should I talk about?
"I do not even want to take Imran Khan's name but he represents everything that should not be in this country. So when I talk about the inflation in prices of flour, sugar, gas and electricity, who else can I name but Imran Khan? And the biggest problem of the people is that their vote has been stolen."
Maryam alleged that the PTI government itself made items disappear from the market and brought them back at more expensive rates.
"The economic situation cannot be improved in the hands of these inefficient people. This is what happens when the vote is stolen," she said.