ISLAMABAD - The joint opposition that had assured the ruling Pakistan Muslim League (PML-N) to mediate between the government and Imran Khan on Tuesday came up with an innocent excuse that they are unable to defuse the situation as Khan was not ready to listen to anyone.
Opposition Leader in National Assembly Syed Khurshid Shah on Monday had requested Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif to give mandate to a committee of parliamentary leaders of all political forces to talk to Imran and Qadri to defuse the prevailing impasse.
But on Tuesday, Shah called to his office key govt ministers including Khwaja Saad Rafique, Pervez Rashid and Lt Gen (retired) Abdul Qadir Baloch only to inform them that neither Khan nor Qadri was willing to meet the party members.
Earlier, a meeting had taken place in the Shah’s chamber that was attended by Mehmood Khan Achakzai, JI’s Sahibzada Tariq Ullah, MQM’s Abdul Rashid Godel, ANP’s Ghulam Bilour and some FATA lawmakers.
Unable to make an appointment for a meeting with Imran Khan and Dr Tahirul Qadri to resolve the issue amicably, the government ministers looked disappointed to hear from Shah that only God can convince the two protesting leaders to opt for table talks instead of street agitation.
“He is not ready to talk to us. We begged PTI’s MNA Arif Alvi to arrange our meeting with Khan but to no avail,” the opposition leader told reporters.
The corridors in National Assembly were abuzz with conflicting whispers as confusion gripped both treasury and opposition members about the possible outcome of the marchers after Constitution Avenue (Red Zone) is swamped by protesters.
“How would the government tackle the situation after Imran Khan and Dr Qadri refused to listen to mediators,” a reporter asked Minister for Parliamentary Affairs Sheikh Aftab. “To be very frank, nobody knows how to convince Imran Khan,” the minister candidly replied.
“Only Khan and Qadri know what exactly they want. But one thing is very clear that Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif will not bow to the illegitimate demand of resignation. We will fight till the end. We want the forces exposed that are behind the two leaders,” the minister continued.
Some in the ruling PML-N even doubt the role of opposition parties in making sincere efforts to cool down the political temperature with one PML-N MNA arguing that if a television anchor can easily meet Imran Khan and Dr Qadri then why not the opposition members.
“I am dead sure that our ‘friendly opposition’ is misguiding the government. They have badly failed to resolve the political drama. And has rather ballooned the anxiety,” a PML-N’s lawmaker told this reporter seeking anonymity.
The Nation learnt on Tuesday that opposition and government allied political parties reached a consensus during the meting in the chamber of the Opposition Leader that the responsibility of security at Constitution Avenue should be given to military.
They decided that protesters would not be stopped from staging a sit-in outside the parliament and instead would be offered water and other facilities till they remain peaceful.
“Let them camp outside National Assembly or PM Secretariat. How long will the marchers stay here? Let them protest and get exhausted. Their demands particularly resignation of Prime Minister is not acceptable at any forum,” a source quoted Mehmood Khan Achkzai as telling the meeting.