PML-N eyes military establishment’s help to avert looming political storm

ISLAMABAD: Alarmed and deterred by the looming political storm, the ruling PML-N leadership seeks support of the establishment to stop the rallies against the government. 
Interestingly, of late, the ruling PML-N seems to be gaining confidence in the wake of improved relations with the military establishment of the country on a host of contentious issues, carving out safe exit for former military ruler Pervez Musharraf being the top agenda item. A high profile personality from the military establishment, is meanwhile, learnt to have initiated background contacts with Imran Khan’s PTI and Tahirul Qadri’s PAT to dissuade them from going ahead with rallies in the country on the Independence Day. 
“Yet, first round of dialogue has completed and second round of talks would start at the end of this week, and we are hopeful the matter would be resolved soon,” a senior official at the PM House revealed to Daily Times. While talking to Daily Times, Information Minister Pervaiz Rasheed refused to confirm backdoor contacts with the PTI or government’s efforts to engage establishment in bringing down the political temperature. “The country is passing through hard times and we cannot afford political volatility and chaos,” the minister asserted. 
He said that the operation “Zarb-e-Azb” was underway against terrorists in North Waziristan Agency “and we needed to fully support our brave defence forces”. The minister said Imran Khan’s party is in the government and it is his responsibility to look after and provide full support to the North Waziristan IDPs in Bannu and other settled areas of the province. Officials, meanwhile, claimed that the military top brass has exchanged detailed notes with Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif in the backdrop of General (r) Pervez Musharraf’s possible exit from Pakistan sometime soon, it has been learnt. 
PML-N insiders won’t say it openly, but important ministers would not disagree with the notion that PM Sharif has agreed for exile and safe passage for former military ruler General (r) Musharraf in a matter of days and weeks, most probably sometime after the Eid. However, the powerful quarters in PML-N are of the view that Musharraf issue is sub judice and the court will decide about it. “Let the courts decide about the general” is the public stance of the PML-N.
Although the Pakistan Army and political leadership have remained tight lipped on the recent meetings between the military top men and the premier, informed sources said that the last two meetings mainly discussed Musharraf’s issue as well as the security situation in the country and the upcoming PTI and PAT anti-government rallies. Sources in the PM House said that the PML N-constituted committee has still not been that successful in convincing all political parties for a grand celebration in Islamabad on 14 August.
PM Nawaz’s kitchen cabinet fears that Imran’s agitation on the roads could derail fragile democracy. The ruling brass also shares a deep-rooted perception that anti-democratic forces like Tahirul Qadri are out to destabilise the country at the behest of some hidden hands, and the recent meetings between the prime minister and the top generals is seen as an attempt to clear the air. PML N sources believe that the premier wants the establishment to play its role to stop the country from heading towards anarchy. Sources said some backdoor contacts have been started on the issue of PTI’s protest on August 14. After getting the assurance from the establishment, premier left for Saudi Arabia to perform Umrah with his family and close aides.

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