Pakistan government negotiators will meet anti-government protest leaders for the second day on Thursday to strike a deal to end the week-long political crisis and siege of the Parliament by protesters who are demanding the resignation of Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif.
Thousands of supporters of Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf chairman Imran Khan and firebrand cleric Tahir-ul-Qadri have been demonstrating outside the parliament building here.
The sign of thaw came after powerful military refused to intervene and asked the two sides to hold “meaningful” talks.
Army chief Gen Raheel Sharif talked to Sharif’s younger brother Shahbaz Sharif, who met him for the second time in two days to discuss the mass protests.
Gen Sharif asked the government to hold “meaningful talks” with the protesters to end the mass demonstration.
A five-member government team last night met with a six-member committee of Khan’s party but the two sides failed to make any headway over the issue of Sharif’s resignation.
Khan’s close aide Shah Mahmood Qureshi said at the end of their meeting that the two sides would meet again on Thursday.
Khan had taken position that he will not enter into talks until Sharif resigned but softened his stance later.
A government official said that Khan has already come to the limit of the protest after leading workers to Red Zone that houses important government buildings including the Parliament House, Prime Minister House, President House, the Supreme Court besides embassies.
“He cannot go anywhere from here. If he storms PM House or Parliament, he faces army soldiers,” he said.
It is widely believed that both government and Khan are desperate for a way out of the deadlock. But Khan has created hype and wants to go away with some solid gains.
Also, the first round of talks between government and Pakistan Awami Tahreek of Qadri couldn’t make progress as the cleric’s representatives demanded Sharif’s resignation.
A source privy to the meeting said that the two sides discussed the so called “revolutionary agenda” of Qadri and government promised to consider its points relate to socio-economic progress and electoral reforms.
The PAT during its negotiations with the government committee stuck to one of its central demands that those responsible for the Model Town incident be brought to book.
The cleric had earlier refused offer of talks but rushed to it after army made it clear that there was no chance of mediation by it.
The Supreme Court on Wednesday summoned both Khan and Qadri for hearing a petition against the siege of Parliament on Thursday.