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Nawaz turns to Zardari for ‘rescue’

* Ex-president accepts invitation for lunch in Raiwind * Aitzaz will brief PML-N on legal points related to Model Town tragedy FIR * Rabbani will present some workable solutions

LAHORE: Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif on Friday reached out to former president and PPP Co-chairman Asif Ali Zardari and invited him for a luncheon meeting in Raiwind, Lahore, today (Saturday) to discuss the current political deadlock.
Fearing the Pakistan People’s Party’s could support the institution of the murder case over the 14 killings in Model Town, Lahore on June 17, the Sharif brothers have invited Zardari to a lunch at their Raiwind residence today (Saturday) so as to persuade them not to put their weight behind Tahirul Qadri. Sources in the PPP confirmed to Daily Times on Friday that in the meeting of Central Executive Council (CEC) of the PPP, majority of the members was in favour of supporting the registration of FIR against the authorities accused of Model Town killings following the court orders in which provincial chief executive has also been nominated by the victim party.
After the CEC meeting and suggestions put forward by the PPP’s top political elite in it, the government corridors came under pressure and decided to take Asif Zardari in confidence on the matter while inviting him with his experts for lunch. The PML-N leadership decided that the invitation for the lunch must be extended by Punjab Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif who is not even on talking terms with Zardari since his (Shahbaz) protests and speeches against him the former president when he was in power.
Senator Aitzaz Ahsan, as top legal expert, and Senator Raza Rabbani, as top parliamentary affairs and constitutional expert, will accompany the PPP co-chairman in the much-awaited meeting between the leadership of the two main political parties. The sources said that the legal expert would brief the PML-N leadership on the issue of FIR related to Model Town tragedy while the other expert will share his expertise on how to deal with the situation with some suitable solutions.
“The former president accepted the invitation and will also have lunch with Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif in Raiwind Lahore,” spokesman of Asif Zardari, Senator Farhatullah Babar said in a statement. Zardari will return to Karachi the same evening, the spokesperson said. Although there was no official confirmation about aides of the PM who would be part of the meeting, PML-N sources said Punjab Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif, Federal Minister Ishaq Dar, Senator Pervaiz Rashid and others are expected to be part of Nawaz’s delegation. Asif Zardari has arrived in the country amidst rising political temperature, triggered by long marches and sit-ins of Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) and Pakistan Awami Tehreek (PAT) in the heart of capital Islamabad since August 15. 
In the telephonic conversation that took place on Friday, the PPP side said, both leaders discussed the political situation emerging from protests of PAT and PTI, however the detailed discussion will take place when both meet face-to-face in Raiwind, at the palatial residence of Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif. The PML-N-led government is desperately in search of friends in the current political turmoil it is facing. So far the PPP has implicitly sided with the PML-N government “for the sake of democracy in the country”. However, all eyes are set on the PPP leadership.
The National Assembly had on Thursday again threw its weight behind beleaguered Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif when it unanimously adopted a resolution to reject what it called the unconstitutional demand of his resignation. Prime Minister Nawaz, who has been often criticised for his prolonged absence from the House in the past, turned up there again on Thursday during its session to witness the passage of resolution in his favour. The resolution provided much-needed relief to the premier in the prevailing stressful political situation created by the Pakistan Awami Tehreek (PAT) and Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) protest sit-ins.
The resolution read, “This House rejects the unconstitutional demands from certain political parties for the resignation of the prime minister and the dissolution of the National Assembly and deplores the extremely derogatory, defamatory and inflammatory language used by leaders and members of these parties in their speeches.” It resolved to uphold the supremacy of the constitution, sovereignty of parliament.
Meanwhile, the United States on Thursday said Prime Minister Nawaz is the constitutionally elected head of the government of Pakistan. The State Department stated that Washington does not support any extra-constitutional changes to the democratic system. “We support the constitutional and electoral process in Pakistan, which produced the Prime Minister of Nawaz Sharif. That was the process they followed, and the election they had, we are focused on working with Pakistan,” State Department Deputy spokesperson Marie Harf said at the daily briefing. “We do not support any extra-constitutional changes to that democratic system, or people attempting to impose that,” she added. 
“Nawaz Sharif was elected and he is the prime minister. There is a government that was elected, and is in place,” Harf noted in reply to a question. “He is the prime minister,” the spokesperson responded when asked about the PTI’s demand that Prime Minister Nawaz step down from the office. The spokesperson was replying to questions by journalists who wanted to know the US position on the political situation vis-a -vis ongoing marches on the capital. 
The Supreme Court on Thursday refrained from any observation about the PTI and PAT sit-in at the Constitution Avenue, and remarked that “court has no concern with the political matters”. “It is an administrative issue so the government stands responsible to resolve it,” the apex court observed. The larger bench of the apex court headed by Chief Justice of Pakistan (CJP) Justice Nasirul Mulk on Thursday heard the petitions filed by Supreme Court Bar Association (SCBA) and other bar councils. Advocate Hamid Khan appeared on the behalf of PTI Chairman Imran Khan and pleaded before the court that the PTI had never supported any unconstitutional act. He requested the top court to grant more time to submit a written reply.

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