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January 18, 2018

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Parliament cursed, resignations mulled over


LAHORE: Despite a dismal show of political power after hardly a few thousand people turned up at the much-trumpeted launch of the anti-government movement by the mainstream opposition parties on Wednesday, both Imran Khan and Dr Tahirul Qadri agreed on the last moment to consider Sheikh Rasheed’s demand of resigning from the assemblies and coming out on the streets and march towards Jati Umra to overthrow the Sharif brothers.

All the opposition leaders in their speeches vowed to bring the people responsible for the Model Town killings to justice. However, Qadri failed to make Imran and Asif Ali Zardari sit together on the stage during the protest rally.

Imran, in his speech at the rally held on The Mall Road, said, “I agree with Sheikh Rasheed to the fact that cursed is the parliament which voted for a criminal to become party head. But I will first consult my party on tendering resignations which we had already submitted but were not accepted. We might soon be standing with Sheikh Rasheed on the streets.”

Imran told Qadri that he would meet him after the function to discuss the proposal of resignations. Qadri in his closing speech admitted that Sheikh Rasheed had stolen the show by cursing the parliament and vowing to resign and take to the streets. He called Sheikh ‘man of the match’ and said he would meet Imran in two days for consultations and would then take PPP and other parties into confidence.

The PAT chief promised not to make any decision alone and said he would take all allies along. “This war is no more the war of only the PAT workers, it is now jointly fought by the PPP and PTI workers too,” he said.

In his usual style, Qadri also threatened that he could give call to his workers for marching and devastating Jati Umra any given day. He asked his workers whether they would be ready, if he gave a call for Jati Umra next Sunday or even today. To which, they raised their hands and said yes.

Qadri said the workers of the three parties spitting on the Sharifs’ palace would be enough to sink the whole Jati Umra. He, however, added that the patience and peaceful nature of PAT should not be taken as weakness as his workers were ready to even tear the Sharif brothers into pieces, snatch the clothes from their bodies and raze their palaces to ground. But Qadri said he would not take any action alone and warned that it had become the writing on the wall that the Sharifs would have to go very soon.

Earlier, Sheikh Rasheed announced his resignation from the National Assembly and warned his political allies, particularly Imran, that the Sharif brothers would not be ousted by protests and speeches. He said the Sharifs were like a mafia who do politics by pouring money and blackmail, and purchase entire parliament.

He cursed the parliament for carrying out the alleged US conspiracy of amending the finality of prophethood oath for parliamentarians on the dictation of a convicted criminal. Cursing the parliament, prime minister, Punjab chief minister and others, he asked Imran to resign from the assemblies and come out on streets to send the Sharifs home.

He warned that the Sharifs would not be ousted by any other method and alleged on oath that Nawaz had given the address of Ajmal Kasab to Reuters. He accused Prime Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi of “stealing” the PIA to make his own airline successful.

In his speech, Zardari said Nawaz was shamefully attributing himself to Sheikh Mujib and he had hinted earlier that the Nawaz wanted a Greater Punjab. “He (Nawaz) now has stated that he is being made Sheikh Mujib,” he said but added that the opposition wouldn’t let Nawaz implement his agenda. Zardari alleged that Nawaz had no interest in Pakistan and he would set up Jati Umra anywhere in the world while leaving the country.

Admitting his role in the recent Balochistan situation, Zardari said he just ‘prayed’ for the Balochistan people who had brought the change. He said the PML-N raised no objection over the 500 votes bagged by Abdul Quddus Bizenjo when he was nominated as deputy speaker but was opposing him as chief minister in the same House.

Zardari said he was still capable of expelling the Sharifs but he believed in democracy and would always follow democratic means, adding that he was thinking of the future generations which had to hold the reigns of Pakistan.

He said, “Shahbaz Sharif spared no opportunity to criticise us but we bore all criticism for the sake of democracy. However, they [Sharifs] are forcing us to go to any extent for their ouster.”

He also voiced concern over the burden of loans faced by the country due to the present government and demanded justice for the Model Town victims and seven-year-old Zainab who was raped and murdered in Kasur.

Besides the absence of party workers especially those of PPP and PAT, the rally was also marred by the visible tension between Imran and Zardari as Imran arrived late enough at the venue to ensure the departure of the PPP co-chairman who presided over the first session of the meeting.

Sources say the rally was deliberately divided into two sessions each to be presided over by Zardari and Imran to avoid their coming together.

Imran seemed so averse to the PPP leadership that he refrained from sitting on that side of the stage where the PPP leaders were sitting. Instead, he walked over to the other side and sat besides Dr Qadri, refusing the requests of the organisers trying to bring him to his reserved seat.

Imran dwelled much on differentiating between the rape-murder cases of Kasur’s Zainab and Mardan’s Asma. He said crimes were committed all over the world but the civilised nations caught and punished the criminals like the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa police did in Asma’s case by recovering her body within 24 hours and citizens’ committee was being informed of every development in the probe.

He challenged Shahbaz to visit Mardan and criticise the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa police, saying people there had confidence in the police and they would throw eggs and tomatoes on Shahbaz. He said Shahbaz ran across the city all the day but he could not catch those who killed 14 people in Model Town for the last four years.

Earlier, Leader of Opposition in the National Assembly Khursheed Shah said political parties had gathered not to protest but to seek justice of the Model Town victims.

PML-Q leader Chaudhry Pervaiz Elahi, who also addressed the gathering, declared Punjab Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif responsible for killing people in fake police encounters and distributing death in hospital.

He said Nawaz was feeling pain over the election of Bizenjo as Balochistan chief minister, adding that the saviour of Kulbhushan Jadhav and the friend of Modi should not insult the elected representatives by calling democratic change a conspiracy. He claimed that like the other movements starting from Lahore, the current one too would prove a success. “The time for tendering resignation has ended today and now no safe passage will be given,” he remarked.

Barrister Aitzaz Ahsan said having Aqama was a bigger crime than money laundering since it proved that the leader was more loyal to his bosses than with his nation and people. He said the judiciary had dealt with the Sharifs very softly as always otherwise Nawaz would have been jailed and tried for dual loyalties. He also asked Nawaz to name who was conspiring against him.

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