LAHORE - PML-N seems stuck in a tricky situation both on religious and political fronts as well as within the party as protection of its vote bank on the issue of Khatm-e-Nabuwat is going to become a prime concern.
After a serious and long standoff between Tehreek Labbaik Ya Rasool Allah (TLYR) and the law enforcers in Islamabad and Lahore on the controversial amendment in the parliamentarians’ oath on the finality of prophethood, PML-N is now facing pressure from within the party. The divide on the issue is quite visible while this cleavage is open to widen if the demand for resignation of Punjab Law Minister Rana Sanaullah Khan is not accepted.
Earlier, Federal Law Minister Zahid Hamid had to resign under the pressure of the TLYR through Islamabad dharna. The emerging picture from the current developments does not appear pleasing and may be taken for a wakeup call to the party leadership about protecting its vote bank that is open to divide from the moves within and outside the party being spearheaded by spiritual persons on the question of the finality of prophethoood.
Although the wrong done in the oath in question has been fixed, the controversy still exists over identifying the people who had conceived the idea of amending the relevant provision of the Constitution and that at whose behest it was carried out. The Tehreek and others eye release of the inquiry report of Senator Zafarul Haq that he prepared on the instructions of former PM Nawaz Sharif. One month time has been given to the government to make the report public while other allied issues are continuing to hold the field.
The most burning issue is demand for the resignation of Punjab Law Minister Rana Sanaullah on account of his televised statements wherein he expressed soft corner for Ahmadis against whom Khatm-e-Nabuwat provision was introduced in the 1973 Constitution after innumerable sacrifices. Head of his own faction of the Tehrik, Dr Asif Ashraf Jalali, who staged a seven-day protest sit-in on The Mall, had left the matter of Rana Sanaullah’s resignation to a respectable religious personality of Sial Sharif, Pir Hameeduddin Sailvi, who not only commands honour among the PML-N legislators but also many appear ready to step down as parliamentarians on his call. Sialvi whose protest against the controversial amendment and the government delayed decision to remove the federal law minister has now come to the fore after others have gone to the background although for the time being.
In view of experts, the situation is quite worrying not only for the Punjab but also for the federal government N as Pir Hameeduddin claims he holds 16 resignations of the party MNAs and MPAs while a number of others are in touch with him. So far these disgruntled parliamentarians of the party have just demanded Rana Sana’s resignation for which, they say, they have taken oath. The deadline set by Pir Sahib for resignation of Sana expired yesterday after it was extended for two days Sunday on the intervention of Punjab Chief Minister Shehbaz Sharif who talked to Sialvi Sahib on phone and promised to personally visit his abode. In the new development, Peer Sialvi has announced to hold a conference on December 10 to announce his future line of action. Peer Sialvi, Sahibzada Muhammad Qasim and others who had long affiliation with the PML-N have announced to renounce the N league and now have come openly against the government to press for their demand.
In a situation when the PML-N is confronting immense pressure on the political front and from the NAB references, fear that any further mishandling of the issue on the Peer Sahib’s demand for Rana Sana’s resignation can be dangerous for PML-N in a way which may not be strictly political.
Sialvi Sahib is a spiritual leader of the Bralevi school of thought which also constitutes a huge vote bank of the PML-N after the party had accepted a considerable number of political leaders directly or indirectly related to families of peers and sajjada nasheens.
It is pertinent to mention here that all Muslim schools of thought have firm faith in Khatm-e-Nabuwat and that can be a common factor to bring them all on the single platform if the matter is not resolved within the time. If the issue lingers on, it will also affect vote bank of PML-N and the party would not like to see it happening as the elections are just months away.
According to observers, If the N government attempts to share the blame of the amendment among the 34-member parliamentary committee which had thrashed out the law to lessen its own burden on the issue, chances are there that a political turmoil will take over to jeopardise holding of the next elections on time.
As such the PML-N is in hot water from the side of religious organisations and its own party men.
It is also worth reminding that the TLYR which is deeply ingrained in religious sentiments was seen and counted in the recently held two by-elections in the country. So is Peer Sahib for he too is being swayed by the religious passion. The joining of the two voices for a common religious cause, in view of the observers, can draw a line on the ground of faith and give a big dent to PML-N vote bank besides widening cracks in its own ranks. So PML-N must act discreetly and carefully to prevent it from becoming a reality.