LAHORE - The much-hyped political show of opposition parties at The Mall on Wednesday ended without any tangible outcome, though the leaders made fiery speeches against the Sharif brothers casting aspersions on their patriotism.
Pakistan Awami Tehreek chief Dr Tahirul Qadri who was supposed to make an announcement at the end of the show about the future line of action on the Model Town incident, but he put the matter for another day.
“Since the opposition parties have now taken the ownership of the Model Town incident, the Action Committee of the Multi-Party Conference would meet again in a couple of days to devise the future strategy,” he announced at the end of the public gathering.
Dr Qadri had taken the same position in the MPC a couple of weeks back when he declared that the Action Committee would take all the decisions in its meeting on January 16, but the same would be formally made public the following day at the concluding session of January 17 protest.
The announcement had a demoralising effect on the crowd which waited for hours to listen to a final call for protest from Mr Qadri on this issue.
Earlier, the leaders from Pakistan Peoples Party, Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf, Pakistan Muslim League-Quaid and other parties in their speeches slammed the Punjab government for its failure to provide justice to the Model Town victims, expressing their support for Tahirul Qadri on the issue.
The protest rally was divided into two sessions, held separately under the chair of PPP Co-chairman Asif Ali Zardari and PTI chief Imran Khan – though the two leaders made it a point not to sit on the stage at one point in time.
Second tier leadership of the PPP and the PTI shared the stage in the two sessions but Zardari left the venue even before the arrival of Imran Khan.
PPP was conspicuous in the gathering by the presence of its entire second line leadership. Opposition Leader Syed Khurshid Shah, Ch Aitzaz Ahsan, Mian Manzoor Wattoo, Qamar Zaman Kaira, Nayyar Bokhari, Sardar Latif Khosa, Rana Pervaiz Ashraf, Ch Manzoor Ahmad and Navid Ch were prominent on the occasion.
Senior PTI leaders including Shah Mehmood Qureshi, Sardar Assef Ahmad Ali, Jehangir Khan Tareen, Aleem Khan, Ejaz Ch, Firdous Aashiq Awan, Mian Mehmoodur Rashid and Ch Sarwar occupied the centre stage along with Khan.
Ch Pervaiz Elahi, Sheikh Rashid Ahmad and Liaqat Baloch represented their respective parties.
Both Imran and Sh Rashid in their speeches cursed the parliament, with former announcing to immediately from his National Assembly seat – apparently to pave the way for early elections. PTI chief however said he would consult his party leaders if and when to resign from the assemblies.
Wednesday’s political gathering, a dismal show by all standards, cannot even be described as a starting point to make a united electoral front against the ruling party. This is so because leaders of the main opposition parties, especially the PPP and the PTI, have already made it clear that Model Town incident was the only point of their convergence at the PAT platform.
Addressing the gathering, PPP-P president Asif Ali Zardari said that he had the power to oust the present rulers any time. “Any person with a little bit of political wisdom would support my view”, he asserted.
In his speech, Zardari also tried to prove himself a true patriot and a nationalist while casting aspersion on the patriotism of Mian Nawaz Sharif.
“We want to live and die in Pakistan while they (Sharifs) don’t care about Pakistan. They create a Jati Umra wherever they go”, he averred. He also called Nawaz Sharif a friend of Moodi.
Zardari stated that he had once predicted that Nawaz Sharif wanted to make a greater Punjab and now he had himself uttered the same by equating him with Sheikh Mujeebur Rehman.
“It is our right to do politics and we will continue to it but we will not go against the country. We have never conspired against democracy. Our survival is linked to Pakistan’s survival unlike Nawaz Sharif who thinks only about Jati Umra. They want to weaken the country”, he observed.
Zardari believed that Nawaz Sharif could go to any extent to save his politics. “Enemy of Pakistan is our enemy”, he said, adding that the PML-N chief was trying to become another Mujeebur Rehman at the cost of country’s security.
He recalled that despite the martyrdom of “Shaheed Bhutto and BB Shaheed”, the PPP never talked of breaking the country. “I raised the slogan of Pakistan Khhappay after BB shaheed was assassinated”, he said.
Zardari further stated that the PPP was a party of martyrs which never went against the country despite all odds. “It is because we respect and love the motherland unlike Sharifs who only respect and protect their power”, he observed.
On the recent political change in Balochistan, Zardari said: “I had just prayed for the change but did not engineer the move”.
Speaking on the occasion, PTI chief Imran castigated the government for politicising the police in Punjab province. He said he had depoliticised the police force in KP province where the people were satisfied with its performance which he termed exemplary.
Khan challenged Shehbaz Sharif to visit Mardan district, criticise the KP police and then see the public reaction on it. “People would throw rotten eggs on you rejecting your point of view”, he added.
He averred that no society in the world was free of crime but the governments in the civilised countries would apprehend and punish the criminals.
Imran also censured the government for creating the issue of Khatm-e-Nabuwat and its failure to penalise those behind this conspiracy.
To a proposal by Sheikh Rashid that Imran should announce his resignations from his National Assembly seat, Imran cursed the Parliament while denouncing its role in the passage of a bill allowing a disqualified person to head a political party.
He said he had resigned earlier from the Assembly, but his resignation was not accepted by the Speaker. He, however, made a commitment to have consultation with the party on the issue.
PAT Chairman Dr Tahirul Qadri said the Sharifs would have to stand accountable before the people of Pakistan for their corruption, loot and bloodshed in Model Town. He said the days of PML-N government were numbered and Sharifs would have to go home now.
Qadri claimed he could order his workers to attack Sharifs’ palaces at Jati Umra (Raiwind) to oust them from power, but being a law abiding citizen he would not issue any such directions. Qadri’s supporters responded in the affirmative when he asked them if they were ready to stage a sit-in at Jati Umra.
Qadri declared Sheikh Rasheed the “man of the match” after the latter announced his resignation from the National Assembly.
Opposition fails to make a mark