Political deadlock persists in Pakistan as army plays 'facilitator'
Islamabad: The talks between the government and representatives of the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) and Pakistan Awami Tehreek (PAT) failed to break the political deadlock between the two sides on Friday as the army tried to play the role of a ‘facilitator' at the behest of the government, media reports said.
In a message posted on Twitter, army spokesperson Maj. Gen. Asim Bajwa said, "(The) COAS (Chief of Army Staff General Raheel Sharif) was asked by the government to play (a) facilitative role for resolution of current impasse, in yesterday's (Thursday's) meeting, at (the) PM house."
PTI chairman Imran Khan and PAT leader Tahir-ul-Qadri on Thursday accepted the army chief as a mediator and guarantor in solving the current political impasse. General Sharif on Friday held separate meetings with both Khan and Qadri who agreed to take steps to resume the dialogue.
However, Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif told parliament that it was Qadri and Khan who requested a meeting with General Sharif and he gave permission for the army chief to engage the two leaders.
Both Qadri and Khan expressed shock over Sharif's statement and slammed the government for "lying" about the army mediation request.
Nawaz's statement came after Interior Minister Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan justified the military's involvement, saying the government was left with no choice.
"These two groups did not trust the judiciary; they did not trust the opposition parties in this assembly; they do not trust lawyers, tribunals -- if they do not trust anyone (but the army) what option did the government have," he said.
A joint delegation of PTI and PAT met the government representatives for a peaceful resolution of their demands. But the talks failed to bear any fruit at the end of the day. Both PTI and PAT have remained unflinching in their demands, especially the one relating to Nawaz's resignation, with Imran Khan saying he will not give in to the government's efforts to "buy him out".
Speaking to the media after the conclusion of Friday's talks in Islamabad, Shah Mehmood Qureshi, who was leading the PTI delegation, said his party had asked the government to give an explanation for the position it took in parliament.
“The government's response in the National Assembly was fallacious,” Qureshi said, adding that the difference in the versions of PTI and the government was reflective of the trust deficit prevailing between the two sides.