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EditorialGrand dialogue and ground realities

Grand dialogue and ground realities

Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif’s suggestion for a grand dialogue may not yield results unless the government takes reconciliatory measures toward the main opposition party – the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI). In the same vein, the moderate circles within the PTI should work to convince the top leadership to give up the hard-line it has been taking against the major political parties of the country for the past several years. In recent weeks, some ministers of the coalition government, mainly from the Pakistan Muslim League-N, have issued derogatory and threatening statements directed at former prime minister Imran Khan and other top PTI leaders only to raise the political temperature. Perhaps among the coalition government, the prime minister has realised the importance of dialogue to resolve problems, conflicts and differences. On the other side, PTI Chairman Imran Khan has long been a supporter of dialogue to end wars between nations, tribes and groups, mostly referring to Afghanistan. History offers several instances in both ancient and modern times that a lasting solution can never be won by force or stubbornness alone. Even after decades of war and strife, the warring parties at one level or another finally have to take the path of negotiation and reconciliation.

The country is currently in the midst of the most pressing times and economic, social and political problems. All economic indicators show a troubling time ahead due to heavy external debt and international recession. The situation demands that all political players and other powerful institutions should come to the same page only to overcome these difficulties. But political and legal necessities do not allow the political parties and powerful institutions to forge a ground to work together to steer the country out of economic problems. Instead, the government is threatening to arrest former prime minister Imran Khan. On the other hand, Imran Khan’s party demands snap polls. The powerful institutions are working as a bystander, instead of arranging a platform for all players to work out a plan which is acceptable to all. The PTI is showing signs of flexibility as maverick Fawad Chaudhry has already said that if the government announces election dates, the party would return to the assembly. This can be an ice-breaking point between the opposition and the ruling coalition. If both sides agree on an election date, the parliament can be a discussion forum for the proposed grand dialogue. It seems that only the prime minister is interested in initiating the dialogue, while his ministers and hawkish leaders, including senior vice-president of the PML-N Maryam Nawaz, are only interested in confrontation. On the other side, the PTI has not softened its stance on the roles of the institutions in the ouster of their government. Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif has rightly urged all stakeholders not to sacrifice the country’s issues, especially education, health, industry and agriculture for politics and reiterated this proposal of grand dialogue to formulate a unified national strategy in this regard. It is suggested he himself reached the PTI immediately and started discussing the issue of new elections. The world keeps finding solutions to its problems through dialogues and the prime minister’s proposal should be accepted without ego issues. History will remember the gesture in golden

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