FAISALABAD - Pressure is growing for resignation of Punjab Law Minister Rana Sanaullah, not only from outside but also from within the ruling Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz.

At a Khatm-e-Nabuwat Conference yesterday, five Nawaz League lawmakers announced that they would resign from assemblies if the law minister did not quit.

Rana, who is also in trouble these days for his alleged role in Model Town massacre, is being seen by hardliners as pro-Qadiani.

At the charged gathering at Faisalabad’s Dhobi Ghat, the lawmakers said they have submitted their resignations to politico-religious leader Pir Hameeduddin Sialvi and gave him power to decide their political future.

These lawmakers are National Assembly members Ghulam Bibi Bharwana from Jhang and Dr Nisar Ahmed Jutt from Faisalabad, and Punjab Assembly members Maulana Rehmatullah from Chinot, Ghulam Nizamuddin Sialvi from Sarghodha and Muhammad Khan Baloch from Jhang.

Responding to the development, Interior Minister Ahsan Iqbal on Sunday said that resignations of few legislators won’t damage the PML-N government.

Addressing a ceremony in Narowal, he said their political opponents were busy in pulling their legs through different means but the PML-N government will complete its tenure.

Pir Sialvi, a spiritual leader and custodian of Sial Sharif Shrine of Sargodha, had announced his dissociation from PML-N a few days earlier, accusing the ruling party of following pro-Qadiani policies.

He had earlier claimed that 15 PML-N lawmakers were with him and they would announce their resignations. But yesterday’s show proved his claim to be an overstatement, though he maintained in his keynote address that more lawmakers would announce their resignations in future.

The conference arranged by Sunni Ittehad Council was attended by a large number of clerics and spiritual leaders, mostly belonging to Brelvi-Sunni school of thought.

During the event, MNA Ghulam Bibi Bharwana announced her resignation from the party. MNA Nisar Jutt gave Pir Sialvi the power to decide his political future.

Similarly, Qamarul Haq said that on behalf of his father, MPA Rehmatullah, he announces sacrificing his provincial assembly seat.

MPA Nizamuddin Sialvi said he was willing to sacrifice ‘thousands of seats’ for the finality of prophethood.

MPA Mohammad Khan Baloch also said that Pir Sialvi has the right to declare his resignation.

Pir Sialvi, who arrived in Faisalabad from Jhang in a rally of dozens of vehicles, demanded resignation of Law Minister Rana Sanaullah in his brief address. He said he was not a political person and the agenda of the conference was finality of the prophethood.

“As firm believers of Khatm-e-Nabuwat, we have not gathered here for soliciting support for elections or pursue a political agenda,” Sialvi said.

A spokesperson of Sial Sharif shrine claimed participation of thousands of scholars and caretakers of shrines across the country in the conference. He vowed to step up their campaign against Rana Sanaullah.

The spokesperson claimed that around 25 councillors and chairmen of Punjab union councils would also submit their resignations.

History of the issue

It all started from some apparently slight changes in oath of election candidates brought as part of a new election law, which have now been reversed, stirred a storm and has already caused Federal Law Minister Zahid Hamid his position.

The government bid, dubbed by many as a creepy move to benefit the Qadianis [also called Mirzais], led to a crippling 20-day sit-in protest, led by a section of hardline Brelvi clerics. Bloody clashes came when police, on court orders, unsuccessfully tried to disperse the protesters.

The protest ended only when the government bowed down to demands of the demonstrators and signed an army-brokered agreement with the protest leaders. One of their key demands was resignation of Zahid Hamid.

Punjab Law Minister Rana Sanaullah too drew ire of the ‘defenders’ of the honour of the Prophet (SAW) when he sought to defend the besieged Qadiani community, which has faced repeated hate attacks in the past.

Probably, slip of tongue and his going unguarded in speech led the provincial minister to be seen as a supporter of Qadianis, though he apparently just wanted to make people understand that the non-Muslim community must at least not be denied their basic human rights.

Model Town factor

The PML-N government has also been facing pressure from opposition parties who are calling for immediate resignation of Rana Sanaullah as well as Punjab Chief Minister Shehbaz Sharif for their alleged role in Model Town tragedy which claimed 14 lives of PAT activists.

PPP co-chairman Asif Ali Zardari, PTI chief Imran Khan, PML-Q and some other parties are supporting PAT chief Tahirul Qadri’s demand for resignation of Rana and the CM. Dr Qadri has threatened to launch a protest campaign if his demands are not met.