Away from the issues that plague the state, the political scenario remains as it was before. Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaaf (PTI) and Pakistan Muslim Leauge-Nawaz (PML-N) remain locked in a tussle over alleged rigging in the general elections; while the day to day details and talking points change the overall picture remains the same: deadlocked.

The government has resolutely maintained that any inquiry into the rigging must be along the lines of Mr Khan’s narrative over the past few months; being that the PML-N consciously planned a conspiracy to deprive PTI of power in the government by rigging the elections. Mr Khan has resolutely maintained that the question must be broader and the inquiry must determine the overall legitimacy, fairness and veracity of the elections. All throughout this tussle both sides have stuck to their guns on this issue, while others have been openly negotiated. It comes as a surprise then that government negotiators, on December 30, had agreed on a memorandum of agreement (MOU) which framed the terms of inquiry based loosely on the PTI’s proposed model, provided, we believe Mr Khan’s version of the story. The government takes the opposite stand, with Information Minister Pervaiz Rasheed blaming the PTI chief for “speaking half-truths about the negotiations”. This presents an interesting scenario which leaves only two possibilities. Either this is a gambit by the enterprising Khan to further pressurise the government into ceding to his demands, or the government negotiators did agree to an MOU, but have now gotten cold feet. The first scenario does not look plausible, claiming an agreement where none existed is a very weak tactic at getting your demands met, especially against a side as prickly and stubborn as the PML-N. The greater probability is that the government negotiators agreed to a watered down MOU during the round of talks, but were rebuked when the terms were presented to PML-N seniors. This charade now exploits technicalities.

These “negotiations” have gone on for too long, they are constantly pulling at the hem of two major parties; demanding their attention when focus is needed elsewhere. Once accusations start flying again and thinly veiled insults are hurled once more, this will once again become a juicy political circus which will hijack the nation’s narrative. While both parties are at blame for the deadlock, the PML-N need to empower their negotiators to make binding decision, not just act as mouthpieces for the higher-ups.