PML-N leader Shahid Khaqan Abbasi has said that a “national dialogue” is the only way to solve the myriad of issues the country is facing.

He made the remarks while speaking on DawnNews programme ‘Live With Adil Shahzeb’ on Wednesday night.

During the interview, Abbasi — who is part of a campaign called “Reimagining Pakistan” alongside PML-N’s Miftah Ismail and former senator Mustafa Nawaz Khokhar — said that Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif should come forward and announce a national dialogue to solve the country’s problems.

“Today, this is his (PM Shehbaz’s) responsibility,” he said.

However, the ex-prime minister also asserted that holding elections was of “secondary importance” and not a solution for the problems being faced by the country today.“You also have to decide on matters that go beyond elections,” he stressed.

He added that stakeholders would have to decide whether they would continue to practice politics and run the country as they had done in the past.

During the interview, he was also asked whether his party, the PML-N, would warm up to the idea of holding a national dialogue.

“I am not the party’s spokesperson, but if someone has any other way [to resolve the country’s problems], they may propose it,” he replied. “I believe this is the only way [forward],” he said, adding that there was no other solution to Pakistan’s problems.

“Does any political party have the capacity [to solve the country’s problems on its own]? In the past one-and-a-half year, has any political party talked about the country’s problems?” he asked.

“We (politicians) verbally abused each other, put each other in jails, insulted each other, we paralysed parliament and made it a place where expletives [are exchanged]. But none of us spoke about the country’s problems,” he lamented.

The PML-N leader’s remarks come as the ruling coalition appears to be divided on holding talks with the PTI to discuss elections. Last week, the PPP had urged political parties to sit together to resolve contentious issues whereas the PML-N and Jamiat Ulema-i-Islam-Fazl (JUI-F) had rejected the idea of having a dialogue with Imran Khan-led party.

The ruling PML-N itself is split on the matter, with some of its leaders such as Senator Mushahid Hussain Syed asserting that they should talk to the PTI while some others such as Interior Minister Rana Sanaullah opposing the idea.

PPP forms committee for dialogue

Meanwhile, the PPP — which decided last week to approach all the parties in the coalition government for taking a joint position on the issue of dialogue among political parties — constituted a committee for this purpose.

A statement issued by the party’s media cell earlier today said that PPP Chairman Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari had constituted a committee to engage with allies in the coalition government and reach a consensus on dialogue with all political parties.

The statement said the committee comprised Commerce Minister Syed Naveed Qamar, Adviser to the Prime Minister on Kashmir Affairs and Gilgit-Baltistan Qamar Zaman Kaira, and PPP leader Yousuf Raza Gilani.

Later, these committee members addressed the media in Islamabad alongside Narcotics Minister Nawabzada Shazain Bugti.

Qamar said that his party was taking partners in the ruling coalition on board over approaching the “opposition” for dialogue.

“First, we will reach a consensus within the ruling coalition and then carry out the dialogue,” he said, adding, “We do not have any agenda and want to find solutions to the country’s political and economic problems through this dialogue.”

Kaira also emphasised that “democracy worked through dialogue and not deadlock”.

He said they were trying to convince political parties and “all our friends” to take them on board and carve a way out of this “stand-off-like situation”.

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