The Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) on Tuesday proposed a Grand National Reconciliation Dialogue among all stakeholders, in a marked departure from the days when former prime minister Imran Khan used to describe dialogue with his political rivals as “worse” than sitting down with terrorists.
At the same time, two senior party leaders called on President Arif Alvi to discuss the prevailing political situation, highlighting the party’s growing desperation to revive its electoral politics amidst an ongoing crackdown following the May 9 riots, and its party chief Imran Khan’s months-long incarceration.
Reportedly, PTI leader Shafqat Mahmood fielded the proposal for a Grand National Reconciliation Dialogue during a meeting with caretaker Information Minister Murtaza Solangi in Lahore. While Solangi did not offer any insight into the meeting, describing it as a “private meeting” between old friends, a statement issued by the PTI claimed Mahmood had suggested the dialogue should include all political leaders, the military, judiciary and the media.
Claiming Solangi had agreed to this proposal, he said the dialogue was necessary to ensure a “level playing field” for all political parties ahead of upcoming general elections. He further claimed that the interim minister had said it was caretaker government’s mandate to ensure free and fair polls, adding he had sought steps to ensure the PTI could resume political activities.
In recent weeks, the PTI has repeatedly alleged it is not being granted equal opportunities for the election campaign, and is being “politically victimized” following the May 9 riots.
Separately, PTI leaders Raoof Hassan and Barrister Umair called on Alvi at the Presidency, which confirmed the meeting in a brief statement but offered few details. As reports of the meeting emerged, speculation mounted that it was aimed at delivering a “message” to the president from the PTI chief. However, the PTI subsequently denied this, maintaining that only the prevailing political situation and issues of national importance were discussed.
The meeting also fell a few weeks after Khan’s sister, Aleema, told media after a meeting with him at Adiala Jail that he was “displeased” with Alvi over his failure to play a role in ensuring timely general elections.
While the PTI officially denies it, it is widely believed that the party is seeking to revive its ties with the establishment in a bid to secure a foothold in the upcoming elections. However, per sources, multiple attempts have failed to take off, as the military leadership is unwilling to allow any concessions to anyone involved in the May 9 riots, which saw PTI supporters and leaders attacking civil and military assets, allegedly at the urging of Khan, in a bid to oust Chief of Army Staff Gen. Asim Munir.