On Tuesday, a meeting of Pakistan’s ruling coalition was held in Islamabad to discuss the possibility of talks with the opposition party, Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI). The meeting ended without reaching a consensus, as some parties believed that PTI Chairman Imran Khan could not be trusted, while others felt that shutting down channels of negotiation was not the best way forward. The meeting was called by Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif to discuss the political situation and Jamaat-e-Islami’s efforts to bring both sides to the negotiation table.
Pakistan Democratic Movement (PDM), the alliance of 13 political parties, met in Islamabad to discuss the situation. During the meeting, Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) Chairman Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari stressed the need for dialogue with the opposition party, and was backed by Muttahida Qaumi Movement-Pakistan (MQM-P), Balochistan National Party, Balochistan Awami Party, Chaudhry Salik, and Mohsin Dawar. The PPP chairman said that closing the door for talks was against his party’s principles and “undemocratic”.
However, representatives of the Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam-Fazl (JUI-F) and the Jamhoori Wattan Party (JWP) disagreed with Bilawal’s opinion and said that it was not in the coalition’s interests to hold talks with the deposed prime minister, who was ousted from the office via a no-confidence vote in the National Assembly in April last year. The JUI-F opposed holding dialogue with Imran Khan and stated that he is not a political force. Meanwhile, JWP’s Shahzain Bugti said that his party did not oppose talks but that Imran Khan was a liar and untrustworthy.
PPP Chairman Bilawal also met with Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif to discuss the political situation. During the meeting, the two leaders discussed the country’s political situation. Leaders of PPP and MQM-P called for a dialogue among political parties to bring political and economic stability. Yousaf Raza Gillani, a senior PPP leader and former prime minister, said that politicians should “play the role of a bridge, not a wall”. He added that the PPP would approach the JUI-F in this regard. Meanwhile, MQM-P leader Abu Bakar said that his party would support the PPP to strengthen the country’s democracy.
A day earlier, Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) leader Javed Latif said that the majority of the party leadership was in favor of holding negotiations with “second-tier” PTI leadership, including Shah Mehmood Qureshi and Pervaiz Khattak, but was against talks with Imran Khan. He stated that negotiating with a miscreant like Imran Khan, who was responsible for causing unbearable price hikes, rampant poverty, and economic destruction, was not in the interest of Pakistanis.
In conclusion, Pakistan’s ruling coalition is divided over talks with the opposition party, PTI. While some parties believe that shutting down channels of negotiation is not the best way forward, others feel that holding talks with the deposed prime minister is not in the coalition’s interests. Meanwhile, leaders of PPP and MQM-P have called for a dialogue among political parties to bring political and economic stability.