LAHORE - Close aides of PPP supremo Asif Ali Zardari on Wednesday gave mixed signals about holding any dialogue with PML-N in the present situation.

Asif Ali Zardari reached Lahore on Tuesday to have consultative meetings with the party men here. His son Bilawal Bhutto joined him the following day (Wednesday). Both held a meeting with senior party leaders at Bilawal House to discuss the party’s future line of action in the wake of Nawaz Sharif’s disqualification by the apex court.

After the meeting, two apparently conflicting statements were issued by Zardari’s close aides confounding the public about the party’s official stance on its participation in the “Grand National Dialogue”, the idea floated by ousted prime minister Nawaz Sharif who wants a broad consensus by all the parties on a new social contact before the next general elections.

Zardari’s official spokesperson, Farhatullah Babar who was also present in the meeting, issued a statement rejecting any dialogue with PML-N under the present situation. He also dispelled the impression that Asif Zardari and Chairman Bilawal Bhutto’s presence in Lahore was aimed at meeting Nawaz Sharif.

“The party’s policy in this regard has already been articulated by Chairman Bilawal at his press talk in Islamabad and in public meeting in Chiniot, rejecting dialogue with PML-N under the present circumstances,” said the statement.

On the other hand, another senior PPP leader Qamar Zaman Kaira hinted at the possibility of negotiations between the two parties. He appeared on a news channel after the meeting and made an important disclosure which visibly contradicted the official statement.

Kaira said Asif Zardari had never said that he would not take telephone calls from anybody or would not talk to anyone.

“In politics, one cannot close the doors of dialogue on any political party.” he remarked. Kaira also said there were no permanent friends or foes in politics, thereby giving the impression that there was still room for a dialogue with the ruling party, most probably on certain terms and conditions.

The PPP leadership perhaps wants the PML-N to tender an open apology about its past conduct before entering into dialogue with the ruling party.

PPP-P Vice President Manzoor Watto, Senator Farhatullah Babar, Senator Qayyum Soomro, Senator Salim Mandviwala, Qamar Zaman Kaira, Nadeem Afzal Chan, Mustafa Nawaz Khokhar, Bashir Riaz, Mehreen Anwer Raja, Makhdoom Shahabuddin and Faisal Mir attended the meeting.

The former president instructed the party office bearers to chalk out a strategy for by-election in NA 120 and asked them to campaign vigorously for the party candidate, Faisal Mir.

Mustafa Nawaz Khokar told The Nation that the party’s top leadership was not inclined to enter into any dialogue with the PML-N at the moment. “Given the past conduct of Nawaz Sharif, Asif Ali Zardari is much clear on it,” he added.

Insiders told The Nation that the party’s Punjab leadership advised Asif Ali Zardari that it would be a political suicide for the party to bail out Nawaz Sharif at this crucial time in the country’s political history. They argued that PPP’s policy of reconciliation had already inflicted a severe political damage to the party in Punjab.

Zardari reportedly allayed their concerns by saying that neither he was in contact with Nawaz Sharif nor would he like to do so. “Mian Sahib is now talking of the Charter of Democracy and the new social contract. When in power he is a different person altogether,” a source quoted Zardari as having uttered about Sharif.

Bialwal Bhutto Zardari a few days ago also said his party was not going to bail out PML-N in any way. There are also reports, although unconfirmed, that the former prime minister wants to talk to the former president to take him into confidence on certain issues. The message has been conveyed through a common friend, but Zardari has sought time to respond to the talks offer from Nawaz Sharif, said the sources. 

The ruling party needs PPP’s cooperation to amend certain clauses of articles 62 and 63 to make a legal provision for Nawaz Sharif to contest the coming elections.

CAN REVIVE NAWAZ-ZARDARI CONTACT: KH ASIF

Monitoring Desk adds: Foreign Minister Khawaja Asif on Wednesday said that he can revive contact between PPP leader Asif Ali Zardari and PML-N leader Nawaz Sharif if he is instructed by the party’s high command.

Talking to a private TV channel, Asif said he is certain that Zardari will agree to revive dialogue with the PML-N leadership. “Yes, if I am instructed by Nawaz Sharif, I can play a role to revive dialogue ,” said the foreign minister.

“I am a political worker. Politics is the name of possibilities. Doors are not kept shut forever.”

Makhdoom Shahabuddin and Faisal Mir attended the meeting. The former president instructed the party office bearers to chalk out a strategy for by-election in NA 120 and asked them to campaign vigorously for the party candidate, Faisal Mir.

Mustafa Nawaz Khokar told The Nation that the party’s top leadership was not inclined to enter into any dialogue with the PML-N at the moment. “Given the past conduct of Nawaz Sharif, Asif Ali Zardari is much clear on it,” he added.

Insiders told The Nation that the party’s Punjab leadership advised Asif Ali Zardari that it would be a political suicide for the party to bail out Nawaz Sharif at this crucial time in the country’s political history. They argued that PPP’s policy of reconciliation had already inflicted a severe political damage to the party in Punjab.

Zardari reportedly allayed their concerns by saying that neither he was in contact with Nawaz Sharif nor would he like to do so. “Mian Sahib is now talking of the Charter of Democracy and the new social contract. When in power he is a different person altogether,” a source quoted Zardari as having uttered about Sharif.

Bialwal Bhutto Zardari a few days ago also said his party was not going to bail out PML-N in any way. There are also reports, although unconfirmed, that the former prime minister wants to talk to the former president to take him into confidence on certain issues. The message has been conveyed through a common friend, but Zardari has sought time to respond to the talks offer from Nawaz Sharif, said the sources. 

The ruling party needs PPP’s cooperation to amend certain clauses of articles 62 and 63 to make a legal provision for Nawaz Sharif to contest the coming elections.