LAHORE/JEDDAH - Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif has tasked Punjab CM Shahbaz Sharif, Federal Interior Minister Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan and Finance Minister Ishaq Dar to make fresh efforts to establish contact with PTI chief Imran Khan regarding the Azadi march.

Punjab Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif called on Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif after arrival from Saudi Arabia.

According to reports, during the meeting, matters related to country’s political situation, Azadi march, IDPs and other issues of national importance were discussed.

The CM also briefed the PM on the measures taken for IDPs and his visit to Bannu and meetings with the affectees.

Shahbaz Sharif also told the PM that Imran Khan has been extended an invitation for talks but no response has yet been received from him.

Sources said Opposition Leader in the National Assembly Syed Khursheed Shah has also accelerated efforts to convince Imran Khan to hold a meeting with Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif to reduce political tension.

Chaudhry Nisar has already contacted Imran Khan once and his second contact with the PTI chief is expected on August 4. Chaudhry Nisar had requested Imran Khan to reconsider his decision of march on Independence Day. However, Imran Khan did not commit to anything and said he will respond after consultations with the party leaders after Eid.

In an interview at Jeddah airport before departure for Pakistan, Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif had said democracy is the only solution to Pakistan’s crises.

He said people of Pakistan voted in favor of democracy in 2013 elections. He said the government is actively working on economic reforms to bring the country out of crises. He said his government is committed to resolving public issues.

Talking about Imran Khan, he said he had accepted election results despite his reservations and now after one year he is talking about long march. He said Imran Khan should clarify his agenda behind long march slogans.

Nawaz Sharif said there is no room for politics of sloganeering and sit-ins. He said a few thousand people cannot derail democracy, brought with the help of millions. He said Pakistan has witnessed many revolutions during the last 65 years but now if there is a revolution, it will come only through democracy.

The prime minister said 14th August ceremonies will be held in the night and the national flag will be hoisted in the morning.

To a question, the prime minister reiterated thousands of people cannot make the mandate of millions of people hostage.

Nawaz Sharif said all serious political parties including religious parties believe in democracy and acting responsibly. He said political parties had learnt lesson from the past and now they are endeavouring for stabilising democracy. He said the focus of the government is on economic stability. He said doors of dialogue are open.

Regarding Balochistan, the prime minister said things are moving towards stability in that province. He said there has been significant decrease in Balochistan issues.

He urged overseas Pakistanis to play their role in mitigating the sufferings of IDPs.

Meanwhile, PTI’s Saifullah Khan Niazi strongly condemned Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif’s statement that ‘some persons can’t change the mandate given by millions of people’.

Chief Organizer of PTI’s Azaadi March Saifullah Khan Niazi said millions of people will head towards Islamabad for Azaadi march.

“We don’t want to derail democracy and the motive of Azadi march is to get back the stolen mandate.”