Moves for dialogue | Pakistan Today

Moves for dialogue

  • Too late to do any good?

PML(F) Secretary General Muhammad Ali Durrani has met National Assembly Leader of the Opposition Shehbaz Sharif in jail with a message asking him to play a due role in arranging a national dialogue, which indicates that the establishment is now pulling out all the stops to prevent resignations from the Assemblies. Mr Durrani’s party is part of the GDA, which is a government ally, but his own links to the establishment go back to the time he worked with the Zia regime on the Afghan jihad of the 1980s. It appears the offer he brought included that of release of PML(N) and PPP leaders. Mr Sharif pointed out an obvious reason why the government’s policy of ruthless suppression will not work: imprisoned, he can only persuade visitors not to resign.

It would seem the government and its backers are doing their best to create divisions within parties, after having failed to create divisions in the PDM parties. Maulana Fazlur Rehman has already faced turbulence in his party, created by the Balochistan party, with stalwarts like Maulana Muhammad Khan Sherani and Hafiz Hussain Ahmad. Mian Shehbaz is accounted as being more peaceable and subservient than his elder brother, and perhaps more important than his niece Maryam Nawaz, who is pinpointed as responsible for the aggressive, no-holds-barred policy of her father, Mian Nawaz Sharif, who is unwilling to compromise with the establishment. The attempts to split the PPP have been more half-hearted, and have centered on fanning differences between former President Asif Ali Zardari and his son, Bilawal Bhutto Zardari.

The latest approach has brought a certain clarity to the situation. It is clear that the establishment fears the prospect of resignations on the scale the PDM contemplates. At the same time, the offer seems to have come too late, at a time when the PDM is not willing to negotiate. The PDM is likely to be ready to negotiate only when the present government has resigned, or has given some indication that it is negotiable. Attempts to create divisions within parties seem likely to meet the same fate as the attempts to create divisions between parties: it comes too late.