ISLAMABAD - The head of the government’s negotiations committee, earlier formed to convince the opposition to postpone their anti-government long march, Thursday said the ruling party has made contacts with JUI-F chief Maulana Fazlur Rehman and other opposition parties.

Defence Minister Pervez Khattak, the head of the committee, talking to media said that their talks with the opposition parties had started through backdoor contacts but it couldn’t be ascertained at the moment when they would formally meet with the JUI-F chief and others.

“We would boost our contacts (with the opposition) from today,” he said adding that some fruitful results are expected in next three to four days.

On Wednesday, the Core Committee of ruling Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) under the chair of Prime Minister Imran Khan had decided to form the committee to hold talks with the JUI-F chief on his “political demands.” Maulana, the head of an opposition party, has announced to hold “Azadi March” to Islamabad seeking resignation of PM and fresh elections.

Khattak says members of the committee being finalised

The defence minister, who is a senior member of PTI, said that the PM had tasked him to hold talks not only with JUI-F but also with all other opposition parties who are participating in the anti-government protest including Pakistan People’s party, Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz, and Awami National Party. He said that the members of the committee were being finalized and senior party leaders would be included in it. “The committee would have five to six members.”

He said that the government was seeking from the opposition about their agenda. “If there is some issue, we can talk to them on it. And if they only wanted to start riots in the country and create a law and order situation, we would not allow to happen this.” He further said that the government was ready to hold talks as they lived in a democratic country.

“I have requested Maulana and others not to evade from talks as we, the Pashtoons, have been sitting in Jirgas (local juries),” Khattak, former chief minister Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, said and hoped that they would find a solution to the problem. On October 3, JUI-F chief had announced to hold the long march to Islamabad on October 27 as a protest against the alleged rigging in 2018 General Elections. He had declared that caravans from different parts of the country would reach Islamabad, stay there and send this government packing.

On October 9, Maulana made a slight change in its programme and said that the participants of the planned march would enter the federal capital on October 31, instead of October 27— the day being observed as “black day” in Pakistan and Jammu & Kashmir against India’s occupation of the valley.