ISLAMABAD: A day after the Pakistan Democratic Movement (PDM) expressed willingness to hold “unconditional talks” with the Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) to break the political impasse, the chief of the ruling coalition, Maulana Fazlur Rehman, appeared apprehensive about the idea of a dialogue with the Imran Khan-led party.

In a meeting with Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif, the PDM chief, who also heads the eponymous faction of Jamiat Ulema-i-Islam, expressed reservations over the offer for talks with the former prime minister.

He said the PDM should “never sit with Imran” as he had called the leaders of the PDM “looters and thieves” and added that Mr Khan had said that he would never sit with the government.

According to the Prime Minister’s Office (PMO), Maulana Fazl discussed the current political situation in the country with Mr Sharif during the meeting.

A source familiar with the details said the prime minister apprised the PDM chief that ruling coalition leaders, including PPP leader Asif Ali Zardari, believed that Imran Khan will not dissolve the assemblies of Punjab and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and that he wanted to hold talks with the government as well.

Fawad says PTI has asked Ishaq Dar for early elections

Backdoor talks

Meanwhile, PTI senior leader Fawad Chaudhry hinted at backdoor negotiations between the government and the PTI. In a statement, he said that the former ruling party has asked Finance Minister Ishaq Dar for early general elections and that the minister had assured about holding formal talks with the PTI.

Another PTI leader Asad Umar also came up against the idea of the dissolution of the two provincial assemblies and said in a statement that the dissolution of assemblies will be “harmful”.

A day earlier, the ruling PDM expressed its willingness to engage Imran Khan in a dialogue to break the prevailing political impasse but said it wanted the PTI to let go of its conditions.

An insider told Dawn that the ruling coalition was willing to hold “unconditional” talks with the PTI if Mr Khan was ready to participate in the talks himself.

Mr Khan had recently expressed willingness to talk to the government, but he apparently withdrew his offer after being criticised by the government leaders for taking another “U-turn”.

Published in Dawn, December 7th, 2022

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