Nawaz and Zardari mull summit to counter Imran Khan

Nawaz and Zardari mull summit to counter Imran Khan

Nawaz and Zardari mull summit to counter Imran Khan

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 cricketer-turned-politician.

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".