ISLAMABAD: Maryam Nawaz has finally softened her stance in favour of an inter-institutional dialogue and said that the PDM would be ready to talk to the same establishment, whose key players have been criticised by Nawaz Sharif during the recent weeks.
In an interview with BBC Urdu, she though admitted that the establishment is in contact with PML-N leaders, did not disclose what is being discussed behind the scene with the establishment which has been held responsible by her father for removal of his government, his disqualification and alleged rigging of 2018 elections in favour of PTI.
Maryam, however, set the pre-condition of the ouster of Imran Khan government for the initiation of dialogue process.
Informed sources said that the change in the stance of the PML-N could be a follow-up to some recent background developments which suggest that the ‘winds of change’ have started blowing across the political landscape. Approaches have reportedly been made to some leading components of the Pakistan Democratic Movement (PDM) to mull over options to replace ‘tabdeeli’. Informed sources said that the last week witnessed some significant backdoor interactions which were indirect but ‘promising’. The source said that the indirect contacts were made with at least three PDM components – the PML-N, PPP and JUI-F. In these contacts, matters such as a change in Punjab and a change at the Centre were discussed.
On Sunday, PDM leaders held a meeting in Islamabad that was attended by key leaders, including Nawaz Sharif and Asif Ali Zardari through video link, while others present included Shahid Khaqan Abbasi, Raja Pervez Ashraf, Maulana Fazlur Rehman, Aftab Sherpao, Akhtar Mengal, Mian Iftikhar, Owais Noorani and others. Although the PDM leaders avoided discussing in the meeting who had approached whom, the issue of Punjab and Usman Buzdar were discussed as phase one of the project for change. The Centre would follow, it was suggested.
Sources said that the PPP leadership was in favour of pushing for a no-confidence vote against Usman Buzdar. It was suggested that the PML-Q is also expected to support the move. The PPP asserted that whatever change is pursued should be within the limits of the Constitution.
The PML-N leaders, however, said that they would further discuss the option of changing Buzdar. It is said that Nawaz Sharif is not so keen on this step as he believes that even if Buzdar is changed and replaced by a PML-N-led coalition, nothing would change unless the system is fixed first. Changing the system and fixing the root causes is what the PML-N now demands. The PPP is for change in Punjab as a first step.
The slot of Chairman Senate was also discussed for Maulana Fazlur Rehman but the Maulana was said not to be ready for any ‘hybrid change’. A few names, such as Ahsan Iqbal and Khawaja Asif among others, were also discussed in the backdrop of a possible in-house change in the Centre.
Punjab Chief Minister Usman Buzdar remains the favourite of Prime Minister Imran Khan for reasons best known to him. Most within the PTI never liked him while those who really matter also find him inefficient and ineffective. But Imran Khan has been adamant to keep him on as the Punjab CM come what may.
A senior PDM leader confided to The News that the proposal in the backdoor discussions was to bring a no- confidence motion against Buzdar and change him. That, it was said, would lead to the collapse of the Imran Khan government. However, the source remained sceptical and said such a change would not make a fundamental difference unless the wrongs of the system are fixed.
Amid the opposition’s movement against the government, Prime Minister Imran Khan last Thursday met his government’s allies who bitterly complained about a number of issues. The non-provision of development funds, the price hike and the fact that they are kept away from decision-making were on top of their list of gripes.
More importantly, the prime minister faced a difficult situation during a lunch he had hosted for allied parties when the Pakistan Muslim League-Quaid (PML-Q) did not attend the gathering. Instead, the party’s Moonis Elahi brusquely tweeted that his party’s alliance with the ruling Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf was “for the vote and not for lunch”. The prime minister assured the leaders of allied parties that all their issues would be resolved soon as he was personally looking into them.
Interestingly, the sudden ‘dissatisfaction’ of PTI coalition partners coincided with the ‘winds of change’ that are already being felt by the leading PDM parties. Media reports quoted sources in the PML-Q as saying that the party was not happy with the conduct of the PTI government and complained that the prime minister frequently visited Lahore but never met Punjab Assembly Speaker Chaudhry Pervez Elahi. “He [the prime minister] did not even inquire about the health of ailing PML-Q president Chaudhry Shujaat,” the media reported a PML-Q leader as saying a few days back.
Federal Minister Tariq Bashir Cheema, who belongs to the PML-Q, was also reported as saying that the PML-Q had nothing to show to the people about any achievements of the government so far. “It will become quite difficult for us to go along with the PTI any further if the ruling party does not mend its ways,” he was quoted as saying. MQM leader Khalid Maqbool Siddiqui, federal minister Dr Fehmida Mirza, JWP chief Shahzain Bugti and others have also expressed their reservations about the performance and attitude of the government.
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