ISLAMABAD - Pakistan People’s Party leadership believes Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif does not need to quit but should just accept opposition’s Terms of Reference (ToRs) over the Panama Leaks’ scandal to defuse Pakistan Tehrik-e-Insaf (PTI)’s Islamabad lockdown threat.

The PPP leaders said the PM must show some flexibility to survive and stop the situation from getting out of control.

PPP lawmaker Senator Farhatullah Babar told The Nation, the PPP believed Premier Sharif could get out of the crisis by accepting the opposition’s ToRs for investigation into the Panama Leaks.

“The PM should accept the opposition’s ToRs. This will defuse the situation and provide time to Nawaz Sharif,” he said.

He said if the PM did not act the crackdown and lockdown could give birth to a showdown.

Babar said the PPP will protect democracy and the government will be responsible if the crisis deepens. Asked if the PPP would gain from the government-PTI confrontation, he said: “It is not mathematics. We may seem to gain but in fact there will be no gainers.”

In Karachi yesterday, PPP Chief Bilawal Bhutto Zardari called the PM Panama Sharif and asked Interior Minister Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan to play his role against extremists.

“The Interior Minister is stopping Bilawal Bhutto and Imran Khan but not playing his role against extremists. He is not sopping Taliban,” the PPP leader said.

Also yesterday, Islamabad police closed all roads leading to Imran Khan’s Bani Gala’s residence as the government went ahead with its plan to foil Pakistan Tehrik-e-Insaf’s November 2 lockdown plan.

PTI leaders said Imran Khan had finalised its plan to deal with the government following a clash between the party workers and police in Islamabad as part of crackdown. The Islamabad district administration has banned all public gatherings for two months under Section 144. Last day, police raided PTI youth convention, charging activists with batons and arresting dozens of people.

Imran Khan lost the general elections in 2013 and admitted they were free and fair. A year later, however, he accused a clutch of people and institutions of rigging the elections and dragged them to a Supreme Court judicial commission for electoral accountability. When the judges rejected his allegations, he took to the streets.

But now, the PTI chairman has clutched at the Panama Leaks to start agitation on a new footing. This time he has declared the PM “illegitimate” and threatened to “shut down” Islamabad if the Premier did not step down, despite the fact that the Election Commission of Pakistan, Supreme Court of Pakistan, Lahore High Court and Federal Bureau of Revenue are all simultaneously pursuing investigations and inquiries into the Panama Leaks.

Former Interior Minister Rehman Malik who met Zardari yesterday in London said the former president did not want more political tension. “Zardari believes the PM should act wisely and accept Bilawal’s four-point proposal to get out of the crisis,” he said.

Malik who met the PPP co-Chairman twice this week told The Nation, Zardari was against the policies of both Sharif and Khan.

“He feels there is a lack of flexibility on both sides. The PM should act fast and try to neutralise the situation. Crackdowns will not help,” he added.

He said Zardari was hoping to gain from the confrontation as the PPP was for protecting democracy. “The popularity of the PPP is already improving. We don’t need to gain from such protests,” he added.

Earlier, Bilawal had floated four points - to re-constitute a parliamentary committee on national security, to pass the Panama bill drafted by PPP, to implement the resolution regarding China-Pakistan Economic Corridor and to immediately appoint a foreign minister – to end the stalemate. The government is yet to respond.

Opposition Leader in the National Assembly Khurshid Shah underlined that the PPP will save democracy only if the government accepted Bilawal’s four proposals.

“We will not support the government if they only want to pass the November 2 day. The current situation in the country poses a great threat and if the conditions in the country worsened then PPP will not take the responsibility,” he added. Shah feared the government might not be able to complete its term till 2018.