ISLAMABAD - Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif is caught in a difficult position between the military and the Muttahida Qaumi Movement, political sources said.

The PM wants the military and the Muttahida Qaumi Movement to arrive at an agreed solution on matters of the Karachi operation.

“There is no way the Karachi operation can be curtailed while on the other hand, the MQM is also not ready to budge back an inch. The Prime Minister is in a fix to settle things amicably. Honestly the government does not have too much to offer to the MQM except consolations,” a close aide of the premier confided to The Nation.

The MQM lawmakers had tendered resignations from the parliament and the Sindh assembly on August 12 in protest against ‘political victimisation’ during Karachi operation.

On Friday, COAS Gen Raheel Sharif and Interior Minister Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan met Prime Minister Sharif separately and discussed “matters of internal security.”

Some media reports said the Interior Minister, who was in the United Kingdom for a week, had asked the British authorities to withdraw support for MQM supremo Altaf Hussain.

Sources said that both the army chief and the Interior Minister supported continuation of operation against outlaws in Karachi and that no party should be given any concessions in this regard.

“The MQM’s basic complaint is that they are being targeted. The PM is finding it hard to give sureties except for telling them that the operation is not designed against them,” said the source.

Before calling off talks with the government on Thursday the MQM put forth three basic demands - undeclared ban on MQM’s welfare activities be lifted, MQM’s political offices be allowed to function and Altaf Hussain’s recorded statements be allowed to go on air on electronic media.

MQM leader Farooq Sattar also accused the government of being insincere in talks and seeking advice from an ‘institution.’

“If any institution has to decide our fate then let it be this way,” he said in Islamabad.

Prime Minister Sharif’s top man Finance Minister Ishaq Dar said that it seemed that someone sabotaged the entire process as they were nearing settlement.

In a statement, the federal minister said it is not the government that levelled a ban on Altaf Hussain’s live speeches on national media instead, the Lahore High Court ordered this.

About the MQM reservations on Karachi operation, Dar asserted the decision regarding the operation was made by all the political parties, adding the operation is meant against criminal elements alone, not against any party.

“The MQM’s decision to backtrack from negotiation table surprised me,” the federal minister asserted pointing out that the draft was to be given final touches on Thursday and the negotiators decided to inform the Prime Minister of the same.

Sharif’s close aide said that the premier cannot annoy the military and the interior minister, with whom he recently mend fences, but also cannot risk letting the MQM go as Pakistan Tehrik-e-Insaf (PTI) will benefit from the situation.

“Relations with the PPP (Pakistan People’s Party) are also tricky. So the PM is trying to find a solution which is acceptable to all. He wants the MQM to stay somehow,” said the source.

Commenting on the situation, defence analyst Major General Athar Abbas (r) said, “Some corrupt elements are being caught by law enforcement agencies under the National Action Plan. Some political parties are protesting over these detentions and creating ambiguities regarding Karachi operation.”

“It is the duty of incumbent government to overcome this problem and should address the concerns of said corners. Corruption should not be tolerated in the country for sustainable development and peace,” he added.

General Abbas said it is the equal responsibility of the courts to convict corrupt elements on prompt basis, “otherwise law enforcement agencies may be blamed that they are involved in one sided operation or they are engaged in political victimisation.”

Economist Dr Shahid Hassan Siddqui said, “efforts of present military and civil leadership to maintain law and order situation in Karachi are remarkable and Karachites are happy on decreasing crime ration in the economy hub of the country.”

MQM lawmaker Ali Raza Abidi said his party was not against the Karachi operation but the ‘MQM specific operation.’ “If the operation is fair, we have nothing against it. But if they see all the wrongs in MQM only, it is unfair. We will talk to the government only when our demands are met,” he contended.