LAHORE - The resignation of Law Minister Rana Sana Ullah Khan is a big dent to the Punjab government as, after the chief minister, he was considered to be the most powerful man whose opinion was honoured and who defended the government as well as its policies on every platform, particularly in the Punjab Assembly.
Hazma Shahbaz Sharif, the son of the chief minister, enjoyed a big clout in the government in the managerial and administrative affairs, but it was Rana Sana whose voice was heard and respected on legal and other issues concerning the smooth sailing for the Punjab government.
Just take the example of the Local Government law which speaks volumes of the wise handling by this man from Faisalabad where he also contributed in a big way to PML-N, rubbing shoulders with other stalwarts of the party.
The stepping down of the robust figure in the government indeed reflects gravity of the situation the government is facing over the killing of the PAT persons on Tuesday. Pakistan Awami Tehreek (PAT) had charged Rana Sana with issuing direct orders to the police to take action against its workers when they resisted removal of the barriers and blocks around the Minhaj-ul-Quran Secretariat. However, the PAT does not discount the role of the chief minister, Hamza Shahbaz Sharif and others whom it has named in the FIR registered by the police.
Shahbaz Sharif has dissociated himself from the killings and the blame is being shifted to the police who, as he says, took action without his permission and knowledge. This is something which needs to be established through an inquiry.
The heat of the incident has been felt all over the country and abroad and in this view of the matter Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif who was quite disturbed over the occurrence had reportedly asked Shahbaz Sharif to immediately work for damage control. A prompt action to arrest the situation from going out of control was necessary as the PAT was turning to the federal government after targeting the Punjab government.
The PAT is mounting pressure on both the governments since it has picked up overwhelming support of the parties on the opposite side of the government while Dr Tahirul Qadri, sitting in Canada, is himself mobilising the public opinion against the rulers through video links.
The PAT has also boycotted the judicial inquiry by a Lahore High Court judge, which has made the situation more complicated as it would render the findings of the commission one-sided and incredible.
The most important factor which requires immediate attention is arrival of PAT Chairman Dr Tahirul Qadri in the federal capital from Canada on June 23. And the day could be another turning point in Pakistan’s history if no early and concrete step is taken to pacify the PAT persons at the stage when every rival of the N-League is joining hands with this religious organisation. Therefore, resignation of Rana Sana can be taken as a means to neutralise the situation, control further damage and stop the PAT from crossing the red line which could pose a threat to the CM or the Punjab government. And to what extent the government action succeeds is a question to be answered by the time that is not far away.