The Mediators–a group comprising civil society groups and some political parties–has welcomed Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) Co-chairman Asif Ali Zardari’s proposal to hold ‘unconditional’ talks with the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) party. It has also requested Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif to invite PTI chief Imran Khan for an open dialogue in and outside the parliament.
“We call on the prime minister and the speaker of the National Assembly to find a way to allow the full participation of the PTI MNAs in the crucial last phase of this outgoing parliament to take sovereign charge of the matters related to the general elections,” said a statement issued on Tuesday
“We hope this gesture will bring the parliament to the center stage of resolving the constitutional and political crises facing the nation and ease the brewing tension between the legislature and the judiciary,” it added.
It said the civil society will continue to make efforts to help bridge the gulf between the coalition partners and the PTI to come to the negotiation table.
“Such efforts by any quarter are welcome. We hope Mr Asif Ali Zardari’s pro-talks stance may become ice-breaking and help others to shed bitterness and reciprocate with flexibility,” it said.
Holding out an olive branch to the PTI, Asif Ali Zardari on Monday urged Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif to initiate ‘unconditional’ talks with the opposition, as “the door for talks should never be closed in politics”. “The prime minister has the authority to initiate talks. I will request Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif to hold talks with the opposition,” Zardari said while addressing a joint session of parliament.
The PPP co-chairman, who served as the country’s 11th president from 2008 to 2013, also advised the opposition, the PTI, not to set any preconditions for talks.
Zardari’s offer came as PTI senior leader Fawad Fawad Chaudhry praised the PPP for passing a resolution stating that it did not want to become party to the campaign to malign judges and asserting that political parties did not block negotiations.
The former president said, the opposition will also have to sit down across the table with Shehbaz “as he is the prime minister of the country”.
Referring to the legacy of his party, he said: “We have been protecting Pakistan and will continue to protect it in future. We will hand down an integrated and not disintegrated Pakistan to the next generation.