Imran`s political explosion forces Nawaz-Zardari summit

Khan`s Pakistan Tehrik-e-Insaf party has created a stir by holding a string of rallies across the nation.

Lahore: Imran Khan`s sudden explosion on
Pakistan`s political horizon seems to have shaken the
country`s mainstream parties, with erstwhile foes PML-N and
PPP proposing a summit, apparently to counter the threat from

Khan`s Pakistan Tehrik-e-Insaf party has created a stir
by holding a string of rallies across the nation in recent
weeks, drawing massive crowds. His meetings in Nawaz Sharif`s
citadel Lahore and PPP stronghold of Karachi drew
unprecedented response, triggering political ripples.

The advent of the cricketer has forced Sharif to tone
down his criticism of the PPP-led government and its chief,
President Asif Ali Zardari, in recent days, with political
sources saying that this may pave the way for a meeting of the
top leaders of the two parties.

"There is a likelihood of President Zardari and Nawaz
Sharif having a meeting in the near future," Navid Chaudhry,
an aide to the President, said.

In a sharp change of strategy, PML-N chief has now turned
his guns on the cricketer-turned-politician, charging that his
party was being backed by the security establishment -- an
indirect reference to the powerful Army.

Chaudhry, while pointing to a meeting between Sharif and
Zardari, claimed that the ice had melted between the two.

He said the indications to this were Zardari`s praise of
Sharif in his December 27 speech on the death anniversary of
former premier Benazir Bhutto.

Zardari`s gesture was reciprocated by Sharif at a public
meeting in Karachi, where he stopped PML-N supporters from
shouting "Go Zardari go".

While distancing himself from speculation that a
Sharif-Zardari summit was prompted by the waves created by
Khan`s sudden popularity, Chaudhry said the meeting had
nothing to do with this.

"I think the country is facing a host of crises and it is
very important that the leadership of two main parties should
sit together and find solutions to steer the country out of
these. Their meeting will also have a positive impact on the
country`s politics," he said.

The PPP has always believed in the politics of
reconciliation, Chaudhry said.

Sharif had been targeting the PPP-led government since
the PML-N parted ways with the ruling coalition at the centre
in 2008 over the issue of restoring judges who were sacked by
former military ruler Pervez Musharraf.

Of late, the top leadership of the PPP has severely
criticised Sharif for filing a petition in the Supreme Court
seeking an inquiry into the allege memo that sought US help to
stave off a military takeover in Pakistan.

However, the rising popularity of Imran Khan’s party has
forced the PPP and PML-N to revisit their strategy towards
each other.

Both the PPP and PML-N believe that Khan and his party
have the backing of the security establishment and would be
the ultimate beneficiary in upcoming elections if they
continue fighting each other.

"Who knows if the PPP and PML-N will agree on a seat
adjustment formula in the next election," Tehrik-e-Insaf
information secretary Shafqat Mahmood remarked.


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