LAHORE/QUETTA- Efforts are afoot to arrange a meeting between President Asif Ali Zardari and PML-N chief Mian Nawaz Sharif in near future to counter the alleged moves against democracy and the Establishment support for Pakistan Tehrike Insaf (PTI).

Though the spokespersons of the two political bigwigs were unsure about the possible encounter between the two leaders, Balochistan Chief Minister Nawab Aslam Raisani confirmed the development while talking to reporters in Quetta. “Efforts are on for a meeting between the top leaderships of both parties. I will succeed again,” he said.

It may be noted that Raisani also acted as a bridge between PPP Co-chairman and the PML-N chief in the past to defuse political tension on more than one occasions.

A close aide to President Zardari also authenticated reports of back channel contacts between the two leaders while talking to TheNation. He also confirmed that the Balochistan chief minister was playing mediation role to bring Mian Nawaz Sharif and Asif Ali Zardari together to save the political system. “Raisani is the person equally trusted by the two leaders, and he might have been tasked to pave the way for such a meeting which is need of the hour”, he said.

The leaders from the two parties with whom this scribe talked to believe that emergence of Imran Khan on the political horizon through alleged support of the Establishment and the ‘emerging threats to democracy’ could form the common ground for the two leaders to meet and devise a joint strategy to counter the move.

It is a general feeling among the PPP and PML-N leaders that reconciliation between the two parties would be mutually beneficial given the emerging scenario in which the Establishment is purportedly bent upon to advance a third political force in the form of PTI and might de-rail the system at some stage.

A PPP source disclosed to TheNation that President Zardari was willing to offer early elections as a quid pro quo to the PML-N if the latter does not exercise its option of tendering resignations from Assemblies till the Senate elections. The PPP leadership has already taken some initiatives aiming at appeasing the PML-N against the backdrop of its standoff with the army and the judiciary.

Against this background, President Zardari not only sent a bouquet and sweets to Nawaz Sharif on his birthday on December 25, he also made mention of him in good words in his address at Garhi Khudabakhsh on the death anniversary of Benazir Bhutto a few days later.

Sources said the PML-N has also shown some flexibility to mend fences with the PPP especially after the reports that military establishment might roll back the democratic process to replace it with a national government comprising technocrats and pro-establishment politicians.

When contacted, President’s spokesperson, Farhatullah Babar said that reports of Zardari-Nawaz meeting any time soon were a mere speculation. Nawaz Sharif’s spokerperson Senator Peraiz Rashid preferred not to respond to the call when this scribe contacted him on his cell phone. Senior PML-N leader, Khawaja Asif ruled out the possibility of any meeting between Nawaz sharif and Asif Ali Zardari in the near future.