Following an internal reshuffle of party office-bearers amid the intense crackdown, the PTI on Saturday constituted a seven-member “negotiation committee” without any explanation of who the committee will negotiate with. The tightening of the noose has perhaps pushed the party chairman to initiate talks with the ruling government, but these overtures may be a bit too late as the PDM coalition has outrightly rejected the offer.
Earlier this week, Mr. Imran Khan had made an impassioned appeal to state institutions to immediately sit with his party, talk and find a solution to put the country on the path of progress. However, both Information Minister Marriyum Aurangzeb and PML-N supreme leader Nawaz Sharif snubbed the PTI chief’s move, saying that talks could only be held with political forces, not saboteurs or terrorists. The rhetoric and stance adopted by the government is right out of the PTI playbook, and it seems that it is unfortunately too late for any such overtures.
Meanwhile, the PTI is also attempting to regroup following a mass exodus from the party. As per reports, Omar Ayub Khan has been appointed as the party’s new secretary-general—replacing Asad Umar. Further, columnist Raoof Hasan is the party’s new information secretary, promising to redefine the party’s relations with media and its functionaries across the board. The composition of the negotiations team is also interesting as it consists of Shah Mehmood Qureshi, Pervez Khattak, Asad Qaiser, Haleem Adil Sheikh, Aon Abbas Buppi, Murad Saeed and Hammad Azhar. Even a number of PTI leaders have expressed their surprise over the formation of this committee, and have also pointed out that many of the leaders named as part of the negotiation committee were either in jail or in hiding to avoid arrest.
It remains to be seen whether the PTI can recover from the damage the party has suffered over the past two weeks and if the government will entertain any kind of dialogue. Even if the PTI playbook is now being used against it, the ruling coalition which consists of senior and experienced politicians should know better considering the increasing polarisation across the country. The door for talks should never be shut in politics.