LAHORE - Though the two sides would deny that former president presented any formula to avert the current imbroglio, sources privy to the meeting between Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif and Asif Ali Zardari say he did present a solution to defuse the crisis.

“Make personal sacrifice to save government and democracy,” were the word of advice from an experienced politician who saw many ups and downs during his five-year stint in the presidency.

Though he supported in principle the government stance that an elected prime minister should not resign under pressure and also put his weight behind the government, Zardari also came up with a proposal to make things easier for the government.

In case all other options don’t work, Zardari reportedly suggested Nawaz to think over the option of assuming a new role in the present dispensation to save the system. He may resign as prime minister and get himself elected as president which would be acceptable to the powerful forces apparently behind this anti-Sharifs move as well as to the PTI and PAT.

He also suggested that government negotiators should try to make PTI agree on the point that prime minister would resign if the judicial commission established rigging in the controversial constituencies. The option of prime minister proceeding on leave till findings of the commission also came under discussion, according to the sources who divulged that Zardari tried hard to convince Sharif to save the system by rendering personal sacrifice as he (Zardari) had done by relinquishing presidential powers.

Later, in his media talk at the airport, the PPP’s de facto chairman also stressed the point that parliament should be empowered for continuity of democracy. “I am for Pakistan, for the Parliament. I empowered it without being asked,” he uttered as he recalled the sacrifices rendered by the PPP leadership.

Zardari parried questions on any discussion which may have taken place with the prime minister on latter’s resignation issue. He also denied having presented any formula to come out of the present crisis.

Asked if he had advised the PM to resign and eventually become president, Asif laughed off the question, saying, “Why should I see somebody else as president other than me.”

Expressing his confidence in political forces’ ability to reach an amicable settlement, he repeatedly said the only way to find a way out of the present impasse was through engaging the opponents in dialogue. “Dialogue, dialogue and dialogue,” he summed up his thesis.

To a question, he said he had asked the political leaders he met on Saturday to handle the issue politically. “I faced all sorts of allegations and issues. Sometimes, I would put one step forward and at times a step backward [according to the situation].”

He did not see any role for the Army in the present situation. “If there is talk of third umpire, things would go too far,” he warned. Then he said in lighter vein, “To me, all of us are umpires [in one way or the other].” He kept mum when asked what would be the PPP stance if all other parties agree on ‘minus-one’ formula.

Answering a question, he said Dr Qadri’s reservations about the current setup could be addressed through dialogue. He was of the view that democracy in Pakistan would improve through a process of evolution.