ISLAMABAD -  The government has hinted that it may accept all the four demands of Pakistan People’s Party Chairman Bilawal Bhutto Zardari to avert a possible long march after December 27, The Nation has learnt.

A close aide of Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif said the government wanted “to engage PPP positively” instead of letting it take to the streets amid persistent threats of protests by Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf.

The PPP leader has asked the government to implement the resolution regarding the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC), re-constitute a parliamentary committee on the national security, adopt the PPP-drafted Panama bill and immediately appoint a full-time foreign minister.

The close aide said the PPP leaders were being contacted to improve ties and find a way to meet all the demands in phases.

“The government can accept a couple of demands now and the others later. A foreign minister can be appointed and the resolution on the CPEC can be implemented for a start,” he said. The source said PM Sharif was not against passage of the PPP’s Panama Bill and was ready for across-the-board accountability. “The top PPP leadership will be formally contacted soon,” he added.

This week, Bilawal said passage of Panama Bill was the sole guarantee to hold the Sharifs accountable. He believed under the existing laws they would walk free.

The young PPP chief who is reorganising the party in all the provinces has sought support from other parties to force the government to accept his four demands.

PPP leader Faisal Karim Kundi said the government had not yet conveyed any decision regarding the acceptance or rejection of the demands. Speaking to The Nation, after a meeting with Bilawal in Lahore, Kundi said the party was still awaiting the government’s formal response.

“There have been hints, but they should not only hint, they should tell us clearly if they will or will not accept our demands. They still have days (until December 27),” he said. The PPP leader said the party would take to streets if the demands were not met by the deadline. “The government has to take a decision before December 27. We are optimistic they will make a sensible decision,” he added.

Last week, Finance Minister Ishaq Dar said three out of the four demands of the PPP chief would be met soon.

PPP Senator Dr Karim Ahmed Khawaja said all the four demands put forth by Bilawal were in fact an opportunity for the rulers to save themselves.”

These demands, he said, were not for the PPP but the nation. “If they don’t accept the demands, they should be ready for our protest. If they do accept the demands, it would in their own favour,” he maintained.

Khawaja said the government had not yet formally contacted Bilawal, Asif Ali Zardari or Khurshid Shah to show willingness to accept the demands.

“They are throwing hints, but we need some concrete decision. We will not agree even if they accept three demands. We want all of them to be accepted in the interest of the country. We are hopeful they will accept the demands. Routine contacts are ongoing,” he averred.

The lawmaker said the government would be responsible for the long march by the PPP as “we have given them ample time.”

Meanwhile, on Monday, PPP leader Senator Rehman Malik said women must be given an equal role in the society. Addressing a forum here on “Role of Women in Peace and Security”, Senator Malik underlined the need to bring women in the mainstream to play a role in line with the spirit of the constitution of Pakistan.

The forum was organised by a national organisation, Insan Foundation Trust, to seek views, experiences and recommendations of different stakeholders.

Malik vowed to take up the issue in forthcoming meetings of Senate Committee on Interior and Narcotics Control and the Senate in the context of the implementation of the National Action Plan.

He said Pakistan had been facing terrorism and extremism for some decades, however, the political and the military leadership continued to take key policy decisions and was trying to eliminate the menace.

Senator Malik said he would present a bill against harassment of women, seeking harassment on roads and public places to be declared as non-bailable offence.

He said the PPP was the pioneer of women’s rights agenda in the light of the vision of Benazir Bhutto and the party’s manifesto. Malik said the PPP had taken landmark initiatives in the history of Pakistan towards women’s empowerment.

He said the PPP introduced the first woman prime minister in a Muslim country while the United States has not so far been able to elect a woman president. Malik said that during the PPP rule there was 17 to 20 percent representation of women in the Senate and the National Assembly, which was higher than in the US.