The All Parties Conference (APC) on the Model Town incident convened by Mr Tahir-ul-Qadri’s PAT was attended by PTI, PML-Q, Mr Sheikh Rasheed’s AML, JI, MQM, Mr Musharraf’s APML and Sindh United Party. The APC attendees, amongst other measures such as setting up a 3-judge Supreme Court tribunal to investigate the incident, have demanded the resignation of Punjab Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif. Are all the parties, which participated in the APC, serious political opponents of the PML-N? Yes. Is playing politics over dead bodies below them or unprecedented? No. Do they stand to gain political ground if CM Sharif resigns? Possibly. Do some of them pose a threat to country’s fragile democratic system? Absolutely, and they are proud of it. Perhaps it would then be reasonable to oppose their demand because we’re fully aware it isn’t really justice for the victims that they are truly concerned about? We know that they wish to see the PML-N government go down. And we don’t want to lend a hand now, do we? As proponents of political stability, fully aware of the troubling state of affairs, and familiar with the ‘quality’ of available alternatives, taking a position which appears to favour Qadri and co appears akin to knowingly walking into a trap.

Yet, the demand seeking CM Sharif’s resignation ought to be supported. Why? Because as the man on top, he is ultimately responsible. Qadri’s ambitions, PTI’s impatience and Mr Sheikh Rasheed’s theatrics have nothing to do with the victims. The fact remains: unarmed civilians were shot at and killed in broad daylight by Punjab Police. While we worry about the bigger picture and nefarious plans, let us not forget why we choose to strive for democracy and rule of law in the first place. If we consciously compromise on the basic principles of democracy and justice owing to political considerations or anything else, then we have clearly lost the plot. 13 citizens of this country are killed by the Police, the entire episode lasts for several hours and the Chief Minister of the province should not resign because it is not politically suitable? Because it may help the bad guys? That cannot be an argument in ‘favour of democracy’. It would certainly be interesting to see someone make this case in front of the victims’ families. The fact is that no argument suffices in the situation. Would it work in any civilised society or a functional democracy? Was the Chief Minister complicit or simply negligent? Either way, he cannot escape responsibility.