LAHORE - The government has contacted the PTI to fix a schedule for the fresh meeting after the former’s offer of unconditional talks with the latter, while a sitting between the two sides is likely to take place before Imran Khan’s Karachi shut down call for tomorrow (Saturday).

Asad Umer, senior aide to PTI chairman Imran Khan told The Nation on Wednesday that Finance Minister Ishaq Dar has contacted him after the press briefing in Lahore for setting a schedule for dialogue. “I told Mr Dar that I will let him know after consulting with senior party leadership” on the issue, he added.

When asked about the possible time for the first meeting after resumption of talks, Asad informed: We will take no time in taking a decision on the matter and we will decide it by today (Thursday).

To another query about the possibility of the meeting before the Karachi protest, PTI senior leader said: It can take place before the Karachi demonstration provided I will be able to get the nod of other senior party leaders by Thursday morning (today).

He however insisted: Nobody should take the impression that PTI will withdraw its call for shut down in major cities without result-oriented dialogue with the government.

When contacted, another senior aide to Imran Khan said: Shah Mehmood Qureshi, Asad Umer, Arif Alvi and Jahangir Tareen are likely to be the key members of their team to hold fresh parleys with the government team.

PTI Chairman Imran Khan in his response on government’s offer for talks said, “PTI will withdraw its shut down call for major cities when the government takes meaningful steps for the formation of the judicial commission. The judicial commission can be formed in 24 hours if the government is serious about advancing the matters to a result-oriented direction.”

Welcoming the unconditional dialogue offer, he however said they could halt their Karachi protest if some concrete steps are taken on part of the government. Imran said, “PTI will withdraw its protest calls for cities other than the federal capital on the constitution of the judicial commission.” PTI chairman said the government has made unconditional talks offer after feeling heat from the protest demonstrations which were continuing for more than 100 days.

Arif Alvi, another close aide to party chairman, when called said, “I don’t think that Karachi and other protest calls will be withdrawn, as the issues pending with the government cannot be resolved in one meeting.”

He said, “The dialogue should resume from the point it broke down in September, which included government team agreement for inclusion of the ISI and MI in a Special Investigation Team (SIT) under the judicial commission to probe the poll rigging. It was agreed by the government team that the prime minister would request the Chief Justice of Pakistan for constituting an inquiry commission for poll rigging, while the SIT including ISI and MI officials as top investigators would work under the Supreme Court inquiry commission.”

He informed: No proposal concerning withdrawal of shut down calls for major cities is under consideration. We will try to gauge the seriousness of the government through its direct contact with us. He insisted: We will not go the barracks till transparent and thorough probe into the poll rigging is carried out.

As part of the preparations for Imran Khan’s December 15 call to shut down the provincial capital, PTI Punjab chapter has completed the arrangements for staging a massive show.

PTI leader Malik Sheahzad, who is steering the matters concerning traders community participation in the Lahore show, told this correspondent that party has not asked the traders supporting Imran Khan to close down their shops but the party could also not stop anyone from shutting down his shop on his own will.

He claimed: The transporters and private educational institutions are most likely to stop their operations on December 15 fearing a Faisalabad-like incident. He said transporters and private educational groups during his contacts with them told him that they are likely to close down their operations on that day.

PTI has planned to block 14 major points of the provincial capital on December 15, however, PTI Punjab president Ijaz Chaudhary would make an announcement today (Thursday) during a meeting with the newsmen in this regard.

Secret services, which advised the ruling party to handle the December 15 protest call with care, as any political casualty in the provincial capital could pose a serious threat to the existence of their rule, are at a little ease after the unconditional talks offer to the PTI by the government.