LAHORE - On Monday, Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif said while separately addressing both houses of parliament that the nation should fully support the military operation launched to clear the North Waziristan Agency of terrorists.
He was absolutely right in calling for the nation’s backing for an initiative, on the outcome of which depends the future of peace in the country and the shape of political things to come.
But on Tuesday, a police operation was launched by his younger brother Shahbaz Sharif in Model Town to solve another ‘serious national problem’ which, perhaps, could not have been delayed any more. The problem was that Pakistan Awami Tehrik chief Dr Tahirul Qadri had placed some cement barricades outside his residence for security reasons. Similarly, an iron gate had also been installed at the yonder end of the road on which is located the PAT Secretariat. About half a dozen houses fall between the PAT chief’s residence and his party secretariat – and that’s the total length of the ‘liberated’ road on which people can now drive signal-free.
Eight people have been killed while clearing the road, on which the barricades were there for the past several years. Dozens more were injured, many of them critically. There are fears the death toll could go up.
The tragedy has established once again that the two brothers have learnt nothing despite their long years in power. And in this particular case it appears that there was either no coordination between the two, or if the operation was launched with the consent of the two, then God save this country from such leaders.
The call for national unity after the NWA military action has been effectively relegated to the background by the police operation. It has sparked protests in various cities and there is strong resentment against the government at a time when the prime minister is on a foreign visit. All TV channels are discussing the ‘utility’ of the police action or lack of it and hardly anybody was keen to know the headway in the NWA military operation. All this is because of the all-wise Punjab chief minister. The families of the victims are cursing the rulers and the latter are trying to silence them by offering higher financial compensation from the public exchequer. This is their typical way of dealing with various situations.
It’s no secret that after the NWA operation there is a strong possibility of the surviving TTP operatives spreading across the country and carrying out terrorist activities. It was because of these fears that the security of the ruling family – which is already very strict – has been further beefed up. Other political leaders have also taken precautionary measures as the revengeful terrorists could target any one at any time. In such a situation if the PAT chief had made some security arrangements for his family, it was understandable. And if the rulers still think that the barricades should have been removed, the operation could have been postponed for some other time.
Pragmatism demanded that the government should have reached out to its opponents to request them that they persuade Dr Qadri to postpone his revolution plans for some other time. But, unfortunately, instead of following such a course the Punjab government took an action which overnight changed the political atmosphere across the country and provided its opponents ample political ammunition to exploit.
(The Army Chief’s decision to postpone his official visit to Sri Lanka because of the situation at home should have been instructive for those in power).
The Model Town operation has exposed the ability of the chief minister to pick police officials for various positions. And it has also brought to light the performance of his new Inspector-General, who started his new assignment with this deadly operation. He delivered up eight bodies on his first day in office while removing some barricades from a road. Because of these killings, the chief minister and many others may have to face murder cases.
The brutal way the police beat up the PAT protestors, including women, amply proved the Punjab chief minister’s claim that he has ’changed’ the police culture. If the chief minister saw the visuals, he must be proud that his force has grown in brutality. Three cheers for him.