Durrani claims govt, PDM engaged in ‘Track-II’ dialogue


ISLAMABAD, DEC 28 (DNA) – Former minister and Pakistan Muslim League-Functional (PML-F) secretary general Muhammad Ali Durrani on Monday claimed the government and the opposition alliance was involved in a “Track-II dialogue” to defuse the confrontational political landscape.

A diplomatic practice, Track-II or backchannel dialogue brings together unofficial representatives on both sides, with no apparent government participation.

Speaking to a private television, Durrani, while underscoring the need for defusing the heated political situation, the former minister said a dialogue [between the government and the PDM parties] has begun and it can clearly be seen.

Durrani, who remained Minister for Information and Broadcasting during the tenure of President Pervez Musharraf and is considered close to the military establishment, said the nation wanted a dialogue between the two stakeholders, adding there are people [on both sides of the aisle] who can defuse the political heat.

“Instead of keeping such people behind the bars, they should be offered a chance to play a role in this situation,” he said in an apparent reference to PML-N president and National Assembly Opposition Leader Shahbaz Sharif.

His statement comes days after he called on Sharif in Kot Lakhpat jail in Lahore and conveyed him a message from PML-N chief Sibghatullah Shah Rashidi, better known as Pir sahib of Pigaro, asking him to play his role in convincing the opposition not to quit assemblies to “save the democratic system”. With one seat in the Senate, the Functional League is an ally of the PTI government.

“During my meeting with Shehbaz, I conveyed an important message of the party chief Syed Sibghatullah Rashidi [Pir of Pagaro] to him. Shehbaz is asked to play his role in stopping the opposition from resigning from the assemblies as the move could wrap up the democratic system,” he said following the meeting.

“There is a need to initiate a grand dialogue among the national institutions and politicians, make the parliament functional and gather all Muslim Leagues under one platform.”

He said Sharif was also conveyed that the “collision course” the PDM was going to adopt would have “serious consequences”.

Only on Sunday, Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) chairman Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari asked Prime Minister Imran Khan to resign by January 31 or the opposition would stage a long march to Islamabad. = DNA