LAHORE - PPP Chairman Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari is scheduled to meet PML-N Vice President Maryam Nawaz at her Jati Umra residence today to exchange views on the prevailing political situation and decide on a future course of action.

Both sides have confirmed that the invitation was extended by Maryam and accepted by Bilawal, the real policymakers of their respective parties in the changed circumstances. Bilawal’s father Asif Zardari, a former president, is in NAB’s custody after having been arrested in the fake accounts case while Maryam’s father Mian Nawaz Sharif is serving a jail term awarded to him by an accountability court in Al-Azizia reference moved by anti-graft institution.

This will be the second meeting between the two young leaders of the country’s major opposition parties that were arch rivals in the past. The first was held at an Iftar-dinner hosted by Bilawal at his Islamabad residence a couple of weeks ago. Leaders of other opposition parties were also there.

The Sunday meeting will be important as it will prepare ground for an all-party conference to be hosted by JUI-F leader Maulana Fazlur Rehman with the approval of Mr Zardari and Mr Sharif.

A number of parties have already given their consent to participate in the conference, the date for which is expected to be announced soon. It is, however, not clear what will be the ultimate demand of the APC.

Mr Bilawal, who was in Lahore on Saturday, said while answering reporters’ questions after a party meeting that problems facing the country were so serious that no single party was in a position to deal with them. He, however, did not say how the situation should be handled.

On the other hand, while some parties demand that the government should quit after its failure on all fronts, Bilawal wants the parliament to complete its mandated five-year term.

He indicated that all opposition parties would shortly launch mass contact campaign from their respective platforms.

The PPP government had completed its 2008-13 term with the support of the PML-N as the latter did not create any problem for the former during its tenure. The PML-N also completed its 2013-18 term with a cooperative role played by the PPP.

Bilawal’s spokesperson Mustafa Nawaz Khokhar told The Nation that the PPP chairman wants a Charter of Economy signed by the ruling and opposition parties to steer the country out of the difficult economic situation. Asif Ali Zardari and Bilawal, he said, had given this idea on the floor of the house also and they still support it.

He made it clear that inability of a single party to deal with the situation doesn’t mean a call for the formation of a national government. There’s no provision of such a government in the Constitution, the spokesman said.

Asked if it would be right to conclude that the PPP doesn’t want fresh elections when it says the parliament should complete its term, the spokesman answered in the affirmative. However, he hastened to add that it doesn’t mean that the government should not honour the commitments it had made before the elections.

He recalled that the PPP had played a very positive role at the start of the PTI rule. He said all opposition parties were opposed to taking oath because of the alleged malpractices in elections. But it was the PPP that persuaded them to take oath and become part of the system.

Replying to a question whether the PPP would have the same stance in the APC, Mustafa Nawaz Khokhar said the party would take a decision at that time. He said the APC could come up with a demand for fresh polls if the government stays unmoved and fails to honour its commitments.

Bilawal, while answering a question, made it clear that the PPP would not change its principled stance no matter what sacrifices it has to offer. “The PPP will neither bow down nor compromise the rights of people even if all members of our family are imprisoned”.

Bitterly criticizing the Punjab government and its new budget, the PPP leader said it would fail to bring any positive change in the country’s biggest province. He said while the ‘old’ Punjab budget for certain vital sectors was Rs600 billion, now the same had been trimmed to Rs200 billion.

Also, he alleged, while the rich had been given an amnesty scheme, there was nothing for the poor expect price hike and unemployment. As a result of the wrong policies of the government, he said, more and more people were going below the poverty line.

He said it was regrettable that the most incompetent person had been installed as chief minister of the country’s biggest province.

Bilawal made it clear that the PPP would not change its stance on the 18th amendment and the military courts at any cost. “We embrace martyrdom but take no U-turns on principles”, said the PPP chairman, wearing a broad sarcastic smile on his face, clearly implying that he was using the term to ridicule the prime minister.

Qamar Zaman Kaira, Chaudhry Manzoor and many other PPP leaders were also present during Bilawal’s press talk.