Former prime minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi has warned that the current economic and political crisis has all the makings of attracting a military takeover, adding that the army intervened in the past in much less severe circumstances as he urged the top stakeholders to initiate a dialogue. Talking to a private news channel, the PML-N leader made it clear that martial law always remained a possibility if the system failed or when there was a conflict between institutions and the political leadership was unable to chart a way forward. “Pakistan has had many long periods of martial law in very similar situations,” he said. “In fact, I would say Pakistan has never witnessed a [more] severe economic and political situation before. In much less severe circumstances the military has taken over.” Abbasi warned of anarchy if friction within the society and institutions became too deep, adding that such a situation could also see the army step in. “It has happened in many countries,” he said. “When the political and constitutional system fails, extra-constitutional [measures] take place.” The PML-N leader, however, hoped that the military was not considering the option of imposing martial law. “I don’t think they are considering that but when they are left with no choice, the old famous speeches of ‘meray aziz ham watno’ (a phrase synonymous with military takeovers) are heard.” He clarified that if the army were to take over, it would make things worse instead of doing any good. He said PTI Chairman Imran Khan, PML-N Supremo Nawaz Sharif, and Chief of Army Staff General Asim Munir – the three important players in the game – should initiate a dialogue. Commenting on whether the military should play an arbitrary role to resolve the political impasse, Abbasi said there was no bar on institutional heads sitting down and trying to work out a solution for the country. “In fact, it’s a responsibility [of theirs],” he said. “We have an extraordinary situation. We need to look for an extraordinary solution. There is no other solution. In most democracies, and even in Pakistan, elections did always provide the solution but unfortunately this time they won’t.” He brushed aside the suggestion of friendly countries such as the US and the UK’s attempt to mediate like they did during the Musharraf era. He lamented the political discourse of the country that he said had shifted to blaming and abusing each other, terming it a toxic environment. “Parliament does not discuss national issues. Provincial assemblies are the same way. Dialogue in media is all about abusing each other.” Abbasi rued the current composition of the economy, saying the country could not interact with the world just on the basis of being a nuclear power.