LAHORE - A showdown between a PAT-led alliance and the Punjab government looms large, as the former has announced a movement for justice to the victims of Model Town massacre.

The steering committee of the multi-party conference declared on Monday they would start their action on January 17, seeking ouster from power of Chief Minister Shehbaz Sharif and Law Minister Rana Sanaullah for their alleged role in the killing of 14 people at the Pakistan Awami Tehreek headquarters in a police operation more than three years ago.

The modalities of the protest by the union comprising around 40 political and religious parties would be decided by a seven-member action committee that would meet on January 11.

The PML-N-ruled Punjab is likely to be the central stage of the PAT-led protest against the June 17, 2014 police shooting. The provincial government has however decided to allow the protest as long as it remains peaceful and is held at designated places.

The announcement for protest movement was made by PAT chief Dr Tahirul Qadri at a press conference after a meeting of representatives of around a dozen political parties that constitute the steering committee.

“All members of steering committee have agreed to launch a protest movement from January 17 to overthrow PML-N government,” Dr Qadri announced during the presser at PAT headquarters in Model Town.

The central agenda of the opposition campaign to oust PML-N government, he said, will be the Model Town issue. But, he added, the rulers would also be held accountable for “amending law on finality of prophet-hood and making billions in corruption.”

The protest movement, according to Qadri, will start from Lahore. The invitations to attend and address the protest, he said, were sent to the heads of all opposition parties including Imran Khan and Asif Ali Zaradi.

To a question, he said opposition parties could also support Pir Hameed-ud-Din Sialivi Movement to get resignation of Rana Sanullah on finality of prophet-hood issue if their cooperation was sought from the latter. (Pir Hameed had announced a protest rally for the purpose on January 13 from Date Darbar to Faisal Chowk). Dr Qadri added the action committee was fully empowered to make all decisions regarding protest campaign.

AWM Head Sheikh Rasheed, PPP Leader Qamar Zaman Kaira, JI Secretary General Liaqat Baloch, PTI Leader Aleem Khan, PML-Q Leader Ch Zaheerudin, SIC Head Sahibzada Hamid Raza and MWM Leader Nasir Sheerzai are the members of the action committee while PPP’s Manzor Wattoo and PTI’s Jahangir Tareen will act as its coordinator.

Earlier, Sheikh Rasheed, Qamar Zaman Kaira, Jahangir Tareen, Aleem Khan, Kamil Ali Aga, Ch Zaheerudin, Liaqat Baloch, Nasir Sheerazi, Hamid Raza and leaders from Pak Sarzameen Party, Jamiat Ulema-e-Pakistan and different lawyers and traders organisations attended the meeting under chair of PAT chief Dr Qadri.

The meeting was held after the end of the deadline of January 7 to Punjab CM and law minister for their resignations on Model Town issue. The deadline was given on December 31 in a multi-party conference hosted by PAT.

The conference had unanimously adopted resolution holding ousted prime minister Nawaz Sharif, Punjab CM Shehbaz Sharif and Law Minister Rana Sanaullah directly responsible for Model Town killings and called for their resignations. In case they Shehbaz and Sana refused to resign till January 7, it was declared, a countrywide protest movement will be launched which would continue untill the overthrow of PML-N government.

Calm at govt quarters

So far there is no panic in the government quarters about the announced movement yet countenance will be given to the protest movement so far it will be within the management limits of the government, say the PML-N sources.

They say the PML-N leadership is aware of the developments and is not willing to budge to the demands of the PAT and its allies and, it will take to action prescribed by law if threatening ripples of the protest reached the government. An indication of affording only a peaceful protest has also been passed by Law Minister Rana Sanullah Khan while State Minister for Information Talal Ch does not see the movement becoming successful.

PML-N sources said the party leadership was waiting to see what  PAT Action Committee would decide in its January 11 meeting and then they would devise counter strategy and see to what limit the protest could be allowed. They also said party leadership was wary of the fact that certain parties in this union were followeing a political agenda than seeking justice for victims.

Maryam Nawaz Sharif tweeted on Monday saying the so called champion of democracy have picked up their leader such a person as was out to bury democracy.

Describing Dr Tahirul Qadri an alien to Pakistan, she said the fear of Nawaz Sharif has hinged all political rivals of Nawaz Sharif with the leadership of a foreigner. A person has become leader of so called politicians who holds allegiance with a foreign country, Maryam tweeted adding, Qadri has taken oath to raise arms against Pakistan.