ISLAMABAD - Railways Minister Kh Saad Rafique went to Pakistan Awami Tehreek chief Dr Tahirul Qadri as an emissary of Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif and conveyed his message of regret on Model Town tragedy with the assurance that culprits of Model Town carnage would be brought to book.
Meanwhile the focus of the political players on Sunday remained on PAT leadership and some of them had extended support to them while the others tried to soften Dr Tahirul Qadri’s stiff and unflinching stance and demands but PAT leadership though stands on its demands, it was open to meaningful and productive dialogue process; however, it refused to budge an inch from its declared position.
Sources aware of the deliberations of the meeting said that Saad Rafique straightaway drove to the place without any protocol and security and met Qadri in his container.
Sources said that he delivered the message of Premier Sharif to him, giving assurance about their non-involvement in Model Town carnage and asking him to drop the demand of resignations of the prime minister and Punjab chief minister.
On behalf of Prime Minister Sharif, Saad Rafique assured impartial inquiry up to the satisfaction of PAT leadership in the killings of 14 persons in police shootout in Model Town and exemplary punishment to the culprits.
Sources further said that Saad Rafique also expressed grief and sorrow over the incident and made it clear that there was no role, whatsoever, of Punjab Chief Minister Mian Shahbaz Sharif in the whole episode adding if found guilty he (CM) would not only step down but would also face the case.
Sources further said that PAT chief was not ready to drop his demand of registration of case against the persons nominated by his party in the case, which also included the names of the prime minister and the chief minister, adding that he or his party is open to meaningful dialogue and even if Prime Minister Sharif would come for talks, he would attend him and listen to his point of view.
Talking to media after the meeting, which continued for well over an hour, Saad Rafique said that he had requested the PAT chief to help break the deadlock in the negotiation process and expressed his gratitude to Qadri who had expressed his readiness for dialogue.
He expressed his optimism to break the standoff and resolve the contentious issues both with PAT and PTI leadership through negotiations.
To a question he said that talks with PAT leadership would resume soon.
To a question about the prime minister’s resignation Saad Rafique said that the premier would not resign or would go on leave from office on the demand of anybody.
He allayed the questions about the special message he had brought to the PAT chief and said that he was optimistic about the end to the current political stalemate through negotiation for which the government was making serious efforts.
PAT leader Raheek Abbassi in response to a media man question said that though they were open to meaningful and result-oriented dialogue but made it loud and clear that there would be no retreat from their demands including registration of FIR of Model Town tragedy as per their application and resignation of the prime minister and chief minister for fair and transparent investigation into the case.
Sources in the ruling Pakistan Muslim League (Nawaz) informed that the government had offered constitution of fresh judicial commission for probe into the Model Town killing of people in police shootout but in return it wanted PAT leadership to step back from their demand of resignation of PM and CM Punjab for independent and transparent investigations.
Sources aware of the developments taking on this front informed that former president and Co-Chairman of Pakistan Peoples Party also rang up Allama Tahirul Qadri and discussed the current political situation in the country with specific reference to the protests in front of Parliament House which have entered into 10th day.
Sources in PAT informed that Allama Tahirul Qadri thanked Asif Ali Zardari for expressing sympathies over the Model Town tragedy and briefed him on his party’s stand and the refusal of registration of case against the culprits of Model Town incident on their request. He also informed the former president about the police excesses against his party leaders and activists and said that in given situation it would not be possible for him to withdraw from his legal and constitutional demand of registration of case against the killers of his innocent party activists.
In another development Pakistan Muslim League (Quaid) President Ch Shujaat Hussain and Ch Perviaz Elahi also met Qadri on Sunday and discussed with him the current situation.
Later talking to media persons Ch Pervaiz Elahi said that the sit-ins would derail Sharif brothers and not democracy, adding that till their resignations and registration of FIR against the culprits of Model Town carnage no meaningful negotiations with government were possible.
Shujaat Hussain said that resignations’ demand was not unconstitutional and till their resignations and lodging of FIR things could not move any further.
In another development All Pakistan Muslim League leaders Dr Amjad and Maj Gen (Retd) Rashid Qureshi brought breakfast for the PAT protesters and read out the message of Gen (Retd) Pervez Musharraf showing complete support to the cause and stand of Qadri.