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December 8, 2017

Qadri being pushed to start anti-govt agitation


December 8, 2017

ISLAMABAD: Prominent political players, major and minor, are trying to nudge Pakistan Awami Tehreek (PAT) chief Allama Tahirul Qadri to start a full-fledged anti-government agitation basing it on the report of the Najafi tribunal on the Model Town Lahore tragedy.

The development adds to the worries of the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N), which is working hard to cope with the situation arising out of the release of the report. Supplementing its woes is the declared dissociation of the custodian of the Sial Sharif shrine and his pronouncement that he would announce resignations of fourteen PML-N lawmakers, who have handed them over to him, at a Khatam-e-Nubawwat (SAW) conference on December 10 in Faisalabad. His main demand is that Punjab Law Minister Rana Sanaullah should immediately step down. However, one of key scions of the custodian has made it known that the conference will be an exclusive religious event having nothing to do with politics.

All these activities are specifically related to the upcoming general elections and every participant of this fracas eyes the upcoming polls. Every move is part of the election campaign. Feverish efforts are afoot to clip the prospects of the PML-N in the grand electoral fight next year. More such developments are likely to take place as the polls would draw close.

The activation of the Tehreek-e-Labbaik Pakistan (TLP) and (unregistered) Milli Muslim League (MML), the political arm of the Jamaatud Dawa, to contest every election also pertains to the attempts aimed at cutting the PML-N to size. Their performance in two recent by-elections to NA-120 Lahore and NA-4 Peshawar was not bad in the sense that they bagged a good number of votes, but much away from occupying the victory stand. In the general elections, they may repeat this performance in some federal and provincial constituencies in a few parts of Pakistan, which may damage the PML-N and some other political parties.

On its part, the PML-N is trying hard to cover its flanks to save itself from the damage that the ongoing assault may cause to it. Despite the current onslaught, all of its important allies stand behind it solidly, and the party as a whole is intact. As the elections draws near, it will further open its cards to make up the loss, if any, inflicted by different developments including the Faizabad interchange sit-in.

The anti-government elements have assured Qadri of standing with him should he launch a movement, seeking implementation of the Najafi report in letter and spirit, targeting the Sharif brothers.

“If the PAT chief decides to come out on the streets, my party would join the protest,” Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) Chairman Imran Khan has announced. Former president and Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) chief Asif Ali Zardari has told Qadri, stressing that they would work together so that those held responsible in the Najafi tribunal’s report were given exemplary punishment.

On the very first day of the release of the report, PML-Q President Chaudhry Shujaat Hussain expressed solidarity with the PAT chief and encouraged him to begin protest. Sheikh Rashid has followed the suit and as usual read the political obituary of the Sharif duo. “The Hudaibya Paper Mills case is going to open on Dec 11, heralding an end of the PML-N.”

Way back in 2014, the PML-Q and Sheikh Rashid had sided with Qadri in his protest but for having a little or no public standing they could not make any contribution whatsoever except for issuing harsh statements favouring it and haranguing the government.

The PTI and PAT had jointly undertaken the famous sit-in that continued for months at the D-Chowk. However, the PPP had not only stayed away from this agitation but had also stood with the federal government particularly in Parliament in foiling the raid on the capital. In the changed political environment, Zardari is now willing to break bread with Qadri.

However, what Hamza Shahbaz has stated in his first-ever comment on the release of the Najafi report reflected the aggressive strategy of the PML-N that it will pursue. He severely attacked Qadri, who, he asserted, will be made accountable by the nation. He said efforts were in progress to do politics on dead bodies.

Political support being earned by Qadri from anti-government parties on account of the Najafi report apart, it is unthinkable that TLP chief Khadim Hussain Rizvi will ever back him although both belong to the same religious sect. Rizvi has always spoken ill of Qadri in the harshest ever language. However, the PAT chief has never said anything against Rizvi.

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