Main parties’ support for PAT piles pressure on PML-N govt

LAHORE - Pakistan Awami Tehreek has demanded the resignation of high-ranking functionaries of the Punjab government, following publication of the report on the Model Town carnage amid the pressure being built on the government by the Pir of Sial Sharif, which is a difficult phase for the PML-N government in the times to come.

Both the sides are putting pressure on the government from different directions and perspectives, but they have one purpose of avenging themselves on the government.

The PAT, in order to avenge the killing of its 14 workers in Model Town shootout on June 17, 2014 and Pir of Sial Sharif, Peer Hameeduddin Sialvi, on the Khatm-e-Nabuwat issue are mustering up support from parties and groups in their respective areas. They have single goal to force Punjab Chief Minister Shehbaz Sharif and Law Minister Rana Sanaullah to step down.

In an unusual move, the PAT has won the support of the PTI, the PPP and Karachi-based Pakistan Sarzameen Party (PSP) on the demand of resignation of the duo while PML-Q and Awami Muslim League are spiraling to jump into the bandwagon.

At present, Dr Tahirul Qadri-led PAT has attained immense importance. This party appears to be working as a catalyst for others enabling them to get political room for themselves in the Punjab that has always been the main reliance of the PML-N to reach the power under the leadership of the Sharif brothers.

The actual issue that can work against the PML-N government is with Dr Qadri. After publication of Justice Najfi’s report, the martyrdom of the PAT workers has cropped up as the major issue and the brewing circumstances on the political landscape warrant that in the times to come, it is going to dominate the national scene. In the same issue the PML-N’s rival parties are expecting realisation of their dreams like legal action against the Punjab CM and the law minister, early elections, deferred senate polls, national government, tightened accountability process or damage to the PML-N popularity in the Punjab by means of highlighting negative aspects of its leadership behind the PAT. That is why all opposition parties are rallying around Dr Sahib, anticipating his next dharna on the Model Town incident as the last nail into the coffin of the N-government.

Political observers understand the joint demand for removal of, and legal action against, Shehbaz Sharif not only simply means weakening the N government in Punjab but also to cause dent to this party at the Centre. And the PML-N will never concede to this demand and deter the opposition on this score tooth and nail.

Although the political value of PAT is much less than others around, they are ready to sit with it in Dharna if announced anytime. A

The PAT will need to see how it manages to keep all other parties on the same page. The PTI and the PAT have been playing cousins on the Model Town carnage since dharna of August 2014 when the PPP was with the PML-N to save its government and the premiership of Nawaz Sharif. Now the PPP has joined hands with the PAT while the PTI and the PPP to date are daggers drawn over corruption and other matters on which they trade blames. The problem may arise for the PAT to keep both the parties in order of their importance to its interests. Observers say the PPP as a mainstream party and four-time central ruler has played a big gamble by reaching out to the PAT. This move of the PPP has also been very negatively commented upon by JUI-F head Maulana Fazlur Rehman, also an old buddy of Asif Ali Zardari, the PPP has become so helpless and orphan that Zardari was obliged to walk to Dr Qadri Sahib. The PPP will not go back without gaining a lot from its move.

Disregarding the fact as to how the opposition parties align under the PAT umbrella, political pundits view an unavoidable pressure on the government in the near future from the opposition side.

The situation emerging from within the PML-N government itself on Khatm-e-Nabuwat is not less threatening. Leading the demand of resignation of Rana Sanaullah Khan, Pir of Sial Sharif, Hameeduddin Sialvi, has stood in revolt against his own party holding the resignations of what the media reports say over two dozen parliamentarians. The government has not moved an inch over Rana’s resignation demand. And Pir Sahib has embarked on the mission of garnering support of Pir of Taunsa Sharif and others and is going to hold a public show on resignation demand in Faisalabad today. Claims are there about 60 parliamentarians of the party supporting point of view of Pir Hameeduddin. If this figure is correct, it could also be a big threat to the government in the parliament even if the resignations option is ignored for a moment.

An important factor about the PML-N is the NAB cases against Nawaz Sharif and his children and upcoming Hudaibiya Paper Mills appeal before the SC next week. The PML-N government in the Centre and Punjab is a huge confidence of Nawaz Sharif and his daughter Maryam Nawaz to defend their position in the public against the cases. Their voice is well echoed by the ministers and other aides of the N government. As a net effect of their public interaction, Sharifs and other are getting undiminished public support for former prime minister Nawaz Sharif and a soft legal hand despite their harsh words against the institution. As such the N government would not like any step from the opposition that goes to weaken it and if the government opts for early elections, as indicted by the foreign affairs minister, it would be out to choose its own suitability and terms.

It is evident from what the CM and ministers of the PML-N are saying about the mounting pressure from the two sides that the government is aware of the upcoming situation and has framed a counter strategy. One thing seems clear from what ministers say that next dharna is not acceptable. They are dubbing PPP handshake with PAT ad a defeat and feebleness of the former. The government is also trying to take the winds out of the PAT sails by dubbing its move as a conspiracy against the parliament. Denying Justice Najfi’s report as implicating the government in the offence of killing of 14 PAT workers, the government is turning to focus on the trial court.

From all that political observers view a hectic and important political activity in the country next year when major changes cannot be ruled out.

ePaper - Nawaiwaqt