With less than two weeks to go before Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf’s (PTI) promised landmark rally in the capital on Nov 30, the government seems determined to frustrate the protesters’ plans. During a number of meetings and consultations with senior aides on Tuesday, Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif and his cabinet discussed ways to keep the protesting parties at bay.
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These concerns were also among the main points of discussion at Monday’s PTI core committee meeting. Unlike the Azadi March of August, many within the party fear that this time the government will not allow party workers to reach D-Chowk unhindered. In on- and off-the-record discussions, party leaders from both sides clearly said that the two parties were on a collision course, unless they sat across the table and resumed talks aimed at resolving the ongoing political impasse. After Imran Khan backed off from his demand for the PM’s resignation, a small section in the ruling party are arguing that the government should return to the negotiations table. However, as of right now, it seems the government is in no mood to talk to the PTI.
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A PML-N office-bearer told Dawn that the PM had now begun meeting with leaders from other parties to formulate a strategy to deal with the PTI’s Nov 30 event. “Having secured across-the-board support from political parties inside parliament and with civil-military relations apparently normalised, the PM is in a good mood. We are not convening a joint sitting of parliament or postponing his international engagements,” the official said, explaining the confidence levels in government circles. This is a far cry from the flustered picture that the government presented in August and September when the protesting duo of PAT and PTI were still camped outside the Parliament House.
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The only worry for the government at the moment, the ruling party leader said, was if the PTI decided to dissolve the provincial government in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa or resigned from the provincial assembly. The PM met JUI-F chief Maulana Fazlur Rehman on Tuesday and must have discussed the issue, he said. The JUI-F had earlier moved for no-confidence vote against the KP chief minister to keep him from dissolving the assembly. “Maybe a similar move can be made to prevent the KP CM from invoking his right to send the provincial assembly packing in case the confrontation between the PTI and government reaches the next level,” the ruling party member said. -dawn