LAHORE: In a bid to devise a joint strategy to press for the resignation of Punjab Chief Minister Shehbaz Sharif, Dr Tahirul Qadri-led Pakistan Awami Tehreek’s (PAT) multiparty conference began on Saturday afternoon.
In his inaugural speech, Tahirul Qadri said the Model Town incident and ‘Mujhe Kiyun Nikala’ (why I was ousted) slogan of ousted premier Nawaz Sharif will be discussed in the conference.
Welcoming the delegations of various parties, Tahirul Qadri dispelled the impression that he united different political parties at one platform.
He said the spilling of innocent blood in the Model Town has brought the political parties together. Theses all parties have united to Pakistan’s armed forces, judiciary and other state institutions, he spelled out.
The PAT chief lashed out at the Sharif brothers, tracing their political history from the military regime of former dictator Gen Ziaul Haq to their incumbent government.
“Today, Nawaz talks about being an ideologue, but I want to remind him his past,” he said, alleging that the PML-N supermo bought MNAs and MPAs in the past.
He said Sharif attacked the Supreme Court, took part in the elections under the patronage of undemocratic elements, and introduced culture of buying people and loyalties to establish political dynasty. “Yet, he claims to be upholding democratic norms and was desperate to know why he was ousted,” Sharif questioned.
PPP Co-chairman Asif Ali Zardari, who visited Qadri for second time in a month on Friday, PTI chief Imran Khan, who called on him earlier this week, and other opposition parties have put their weight behind the demands of the PAT, which included the resignation of Shehbaz Sharif and Law Minister Rana Sanaullah.
The PAT chief has already set a deadline for both the leaders to resign till Dec 31 for their alleged involvement in the Model Town killings and has warned to launch a protest movement if his demands were not met.
The PAT is holding the multiparty conference on the issue of the Model Town carnage in the backdrop of the release of the inquiry report of Justice Ali Baqar Najafi on the incident.
The PML-N government appears to be perturbed over the PTI and PPP joining forces with Qadri, which is evident from the recent statements of some key ruling party leaders.
A day earlier, Rana Sanaullah alleged the PPP and PTI were inciting the PAT leader for a street agitation to put the government in a difficult situation ahead of the next general elections.
Apart from the PPP and PTI delegations, PML-Q leaders Chaudhry Shujaat Husain and Chaudhry Pervaiz Elahi, Pak Sarzameen Party (PSP) Mustafa Kamal and other parties are expected to attend the conference.
Model Town massacre
The Model Town tragedy was a violent clash between the Punjab police and PAT activists on 17 June 2014, resulting in the death of at least 14 people.
The standoff lasted for almost 11 hours when the police′s anti-encroachment squad launched an operation to remove the barriers from the road leading to the offices of Minhaj-ul-Quran and the residence of PAT founder Muhammad Tahirul Qadri in Model Town, Lahore.
The provincial government had appointed one-man judicial commission headed by Lahore High Court’s (LHC) Justice Ali Baqar Najafi to look into the matter.
Despite having reservations on publicizing the report, the government made the report public on Dec 5 in compliance with the LHC orders.
According to the probe report, Chief Minister Punjab Shahbaz Sharif did not pass the “disengagement” order as he claimed before the judicial commission formed to launch an inquiry into the 2014 Model Town incident, the report made public by Punjab government says.
The report also maintained that the operation planned and designed under the then Punjab Law Minister Rana Sanaullah “could have easily been avoided” and that the “police officers actively participated in the massacre”.
It further observed that: “The level of cooperation in digging out the truth is that no police official from top to bottom, whether actively participated in the operation or not, did utter a single word about the person under whose command the police resorted to firing upon the PAT workers.”