LAHORE -  The Punjab government is mulling various options to deal with the demand for resignation of the Punjab law minister made by the religious scholars who have joined hands under the leadership of Pir of Sail Sharif, Hameeduddin Sialvi, for upholding sanctity of Khatm-e-Nabuwat.

After return from London, Punjab Chief Minister Shehbaz Sharif took briefing on the issue highlighted again by the ulema and mashaikh convention at Sial Sharif wherein all the participants spoke in one voice demanding the resignation of Law Minister Rana Sana Ullah Khan.

Pir Hameeduddin who is politically affiliated with the PML-N along with his group has renounced his association of late with this party. A considerable number of PML-N parliamentarians, as reports say, are ready to quit the assembly, showing deep respect and religious affiliation with Pir Hameeduddin who at present is having a dozen of resignations of PML-N legislators.

It is learnt from the PML-N sources that the party leadership is worried about the development which was being interpreted by their political rivals as demonstration of widening cracks in the PML-N that may become a source of trouble for the government in future when its opponents are also going to open new fronts on the Model Town killings and other issues.

Sources say the Punjab government wants to deal with the matter through peaceful means and talks, but has no intention to accept the demand for the resignation of the law minister. The government, they add, is in touch with the situation and wants the issue to be resolved at the earliest.

Three PML-N parliamentarians, as per with their announcement at the Khatm-e-Nabuwat convention in Faisalabad last week, handed over their resignations to the Punjab Assembly speaker in protest against the government inflexibility on the demand of Rana Sana’s resignation while another five – two MNAs and three MPAs – are expected to tender their resignations to the speaker after the next convention due to be held in Gujranwala on the coming Sunday. The speaker has neither accepted the three resignations nor has he summoned the MPAs in question under Rule 35 of the Rules of Business of the Punjab Assembly to hear them in person to satisfy himself on their decision.

Sources say the speaker is not likely to proceed with the resignations immediately in order to provide a chance to an amicable settlement.

The sources say contacts with the ulema and mushaikh close to Pir Sialvi are on to reach an agreeable solution to the problem. They say groups within the PML-N have also been activated to mediate a midway solution acceptable to both the sides.

Pir Sialvi who has mustered support of Pir of Taunsa Sharif and other spiritual leaders of the Barelvi school of thought has demanded not only resignation of the law minister but also renewal of faith by him after he allegedly supported Ahmadi point of view while appearing in private TV channels.

The sources say a middle way short of resignation on his renewal of faith could be found out through talks between the parties.

It may be mentioned that on the question of resignation demand, Law Minister Rana Sanaullah Khan has said he has handed the same to his party head, Nawaz Sharif, and will step down if he asked for it.

The PML-N, while presiding over a meeting of the party leaders, has formed a three-member committee to contact the party people who have grievances. The committee members are also expected to meet Pir Sahib.

Earlier, Punjab Minister Zaeem Qadri, leading a delegation, had called on Pir Hameeduddin at his abode in Sial Sharif where he had promised that the law minister will also come to Pir Sahib’s residence, but he has not so far gone there.

Subsequently, Chief Minister Shehbaz Sharif had himself phoned Pir Sahib to discuss the issue and promised to personally visit his abode in next three days along with Rana Sana. Pir Sahib is still awaiting the CM. This option of the CM to go to Sial Sharif and address his concern is still on the table.

As to demand of the law minister’s resignation, after the party faced severe criticism following resignation of Federal Minister Zahid Hamid under the pressure of Tehreek Labbaik Ya Rasool Allah, it is hard for the party to receive another blow of the same kind and on the same issue. That is why the Punjab government is looking for a midway solution.