ISLAMABAD - In the face of full-scale onslaught against each other in media, Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf and Pakistan Muslim League (Nawaz) negotiation teams will be meeting here today to thrash out differences on contentious issues.

PTI Chairman Imran Khan is not ready to budge even an inch from his demand of constitution of Judicial Commission for deferment of his ongoing protest plan and even threatened to come up with 'Plan D' on completion of his 'Plan C' with countrywide shutdown on 18th of this month. While on the other hand Prime Minister Mohammad Nawaz Sharif without naming Imran Khan has attributed his 'Plan D' to destruction and said that his government's plan 'D' stands for development and they would continue to move forward with his plan. In the face of such provocative statements coming from the top leadership of PTI and PML-N, the PM's spokesman Musaddiq Malik is still optimistic about finding some way out of the political turmoil through negotiations.

Though the negotiation team members from both sides comprised saner elements with no hawkish tendency, yet they too were influenced by the government-PTI tension and Ahsan Iqbal and Shah Mahmood Qureshi too seemed hurling barbs and doubting the sincerity of each other in searching for a negotiated settlement of the imbroglio.

The senior leaders of ruling PML-N were of the opinion that talks and protests could not go together and PTI will have to call off its protest to make the ongoing dialogue process successful.

While on the other hand, the PTI leadership is of the view that it was the pressure of their ongoing protest programme which has forced the ruling PML-N to sit across the negotiations table to search for some negotiated solution to the prevailing political crisis. Sources closely watching the situation, said that the trust-deficit between the two sides was at its peak and for making the dialogue meaningful both the sides have to take tangible steps. The sources in ruling PML-N said that the differences between the two sides on terms of reference and scope of the proposed Judicial Commission were wide, and to narrow down differences on it would itself be a gigantic task.

However, Musaddiq Malik insisted that the negotiation teams would resolve these contentious issues and would sail the boat out of turbulent waters. "PTI will not be able to get justice if government is forced out of the power in some undemocratic way," he cautioned.

Terming the Lahore protest by PTI unnecessary, Malik said that instead of wasting its energies on blocking roads, the PTI leadership should have utilised it in making the negotiations a success because by blocking the roads and forcing the markets closure would be of no use when the ball of negotiations was already set in motion.

To a question, he said that the govt has already written a letter to Supreme Court asking Chief Justice of Pakistan to form the Judicial Commission for election probe and PTI should wait for apex court's response.

Giving details of the points on which PML-N and PTI had serious differences during the course of negotiations before its breakup, sources in PML-N informed that PTI wanted the constitution of the Judicial Commission through presidential ordinance which the government had rejected at that time. But now when both the negotiation teams met here at the residence of PTI leader Jahangir Tareen on Sunday last, the government team had given indication for constitution of the commission through presidential ordinance but also wanted return of PTI MPs back in the Parliament for its formal ratifications from both the houses of the Parliament.

Similarly, previously PML-N had accepted the demand of constitution of Joint Investigation Team comprising people from various agencies to assist the Judicial Commission but now they seemed wavering on it and suggesting to leave the matter on the sweet will of Judicial Commission to have the assistance of JIT or not.  

These sources further said that the most thorny issue in the negotiations is the definition of rigging on which both the parties are standing poles apart as PTI wanted sample examination of certain number of constituencies of their choice whereas PML-N wanted the overall examination of the 2013 general elections.

According to sources, the PML-N had proposed to PTI to examine; "Was there a systematic and concerted plan or conspiracy to manipulate the general elections 2013 for or against any political party in connivance with the ECP, former members of the Judiciary, Returning Officers, federal and provincial caretaker govts or any other person?"

The sources aware of behind the curtain developments informed The Nation that PML-N entered into negotiations under pressure from other political forces in the arena, particularly the stepping back of Imran Khan from his major demand of Prime Minister's resignation during the period of audit or at least his sending on forced leave during the period, has really put the rulers under tremendous pressure to resume the dialogue, otherwise the senior leaders of PML-N suggest, ignore Imran and let his protest die down its natural death.