Efforts to make Govt-Opposition sit for National Agenda continue

Sources said that among the opposition leaders, it may not be a problem to convince Shehbaz Sharif but it is not certain how Asif Ali Zardari and Moulana Fazlur Rehman would respond to such a proposal.

There is a continuing effort to get the military establishment involved in making the government and the opposition sit together and agree to a set of national agenda to correct the fundamentals of the country’s economy, governance, accountability and justice system.

To avoid controversies, the military establishment is so far reluctant even to play such a role. However, for those who are trying to make it possible, the bigger challenge is how to make the two sides agree to sit together because of the present bad blood between the government and the opposition.

During his three and a half years tenure, Prime Minister Imran Khan not even once sat with the opposition. He ignored them and even did not attend meetings on the issues of high national importance.

                  At this stage where the opposition believes that it has almost set the game to oust Imran Khan, there are fewer chances that even the anti-Imran political forces may agree to this before the outcome of the no-trust move.

Sources, who are making these efforts, told The News that they have contacted the establishment but not yet got any clear response. The establishment, these sources said, wants to remain out of political affairs even if the purpose is only to facilitate the two sides to sit together instead of favouring one party or the other as it used to do in the past.

But, these sources say that if pursued the establishment may agree to this but the challenge is how to make Imran Khan and the opposition leaders agree. These sources said that among the opposition leaders, it may not be a problem to convince Shehbaz Sharif but it is not certain how Asif Ali Zardari and Moulana Fazlur Rehman would respond to such a proposal.

Soon after the 2018 elections, both Shehbaz Sharif and Asif Ali Zardari had extended to the government on the floor of the house their support for consensus policies on economy, governance etc. However, the government never responded to them positively primarily because of Prime Minister Imran Khan’s anger (on the opposition) that never cooled down and things deteriorated between the two sides because of what the NAB did to many opposition leaders.

It is feared that because of the present no-trust motion (no matter what would be its result) against the prime minister, things would further deteriorate between the government and the opposition. It would have a trickle-down effect on the people, who would be more divided and polarised.

According to one of the sources involved in the effort for the initiation of dialogue, the political parties would hardly change their attitude and would continue fighting because of their respective political vested interests. In such a situation, it is said there is a dire need to make them at least agree on the fundamental policies regarding economy, governance (civil service), accountability and justice system so that even if they fight with each other, the basics remain unchanged.

If the two sides, it is said, do not agree to sit now, they should be persuaded to have a detailed interaction after the no-trust episode is over and whoever is in power.

Last week, The News reported that an important government functionary recently approached a powerful person and sought from the latter to play a role, in facilitating an end to the present politics of polarisation, which has badly divided the nation.

“In the wake of the opposition’s no-trust move against the prime minister, this polarisation is likely to increase further in the days ahead,” The News report said, adding, “The offer is not meant to favour any one party but is aimed at avoiding the no-trust motion on the one hand and paving the way for early elections and a number of reforms on the other.”

The News had spoken to the government functionary, who seemed anxious about the present situation and feared that as the things stand there is likely to give rise to more divisive politics, which is not in the interest of any political party, institution and above all the people of Pakistan.

He had told this correspondent, on condition of not being named, that there is a dire need to facilitate a fair engagement between the government and the opposition to draw a mutually agreed future political roadmap and reform agenda for the better future of the people and democracy in Pakistan. This is not possible without the right                                                                     facilitator and guarantor, he said.

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