Zardari also demands Shehbaz’ resignation
LAHORE – PPP Co-Chairman Asif Ali Zardari has backed the call of Pakistan Awami Tehreek chief Dr Tahirul Qadril for Shehbaz Sharif’s resignation.
The former president announced joining the anticipated protest movement of PAT if the younger Sharif refused to step down as Punjab chief minister.
“Enough is enough…. Shehbaz Sharif has to go now. We can no more bear the killers of innocent people,” Zardari said during a press conference with Dr Qadri at PAT head office in Model Town yesterday.
Earlier, he led a PPP delegation – comprising Khurshid Shah, Qamar Zaman Kaira, Mian Manzor Wattoo, Qayum Somoro, Naveed Chaudhry and Azizur Rehman Chann – in an hour-long meeting with PAT leadership.
Zardari’s support for PAT comes after PTI chairman Imran Khan’s announcement of joining hands with Dr Qadri to oust Punjab CM and law minister Rana Sanaullah. PML-Q President Chaudhry Shujaat Hussain, Awami Muslim League chief Sheikh Rashid and Majlise Wahdatul Muslimeen head Raja Nasir Abbas have already assured Qadri of their support.
It was the first visit of a PPP head to PAT headquarters in almost two decades. Late Benazir Bhutto had come to the place in 1998 which resulted in the formation of Awami Ittehad, ouster of the then Nawaz Sharif government and imposition of martial law.
“There is no chance of army intervention in Pakistan anymore,” replied Zardari when a reporter reminded him of the outcome of Benazir’s visit.
“PML-N government has overburdened the country’s economy with $56 billion foreign debt and only political leadership has the capability to sort out this financial mess,” he added.
Asked if the PPP and PAT could make an electoral alliance, the PPP leader said leaders of both parties had so far discussed only the Model Town massacre and the situation emerged in Muslim world after US acceptance of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital.
“[But] we may enter into a political alliance in future though. We have no issue in forging an alliance with Dr Sahib, [and] for this we only need his [Qadri’s] nod,” Zardari remarked.
PPP co-chairman said they discussed the option of his and Dr Qadri’s visiting the heads of different states to ask them to persuade President Trump to revisit his anti-Palestinian decision.
“President Trump’s move is a matter of grave concern for the Muslim world. It will lead the world into a big crisis, fuel terrorism and fan feelings of hate towards US among Muslims,” he said.
Dr Qadri on the occasion thanked PPP leadership for visiting PAT head office and showing solidarity with the party over the Model Town incident.
He reiterated his call for immediate resignation of Punjab CM and law minister, warning of launching a countrywide protest campaign if his demand was not met.
Dr Qadri read out parts of Justice Ali Baqar Najafi’s report and said the one-man inquiry has clearly pinpointed Shehbaz and Rana Sana as the main culprits of the killing of his 14 followers in Model Town on June 2014.
He condemned President Trump’s move of accepting Jerusalem as Israeli capital and said Muslim world was in shock over it. He asked US president to revisit his decision to save the world from descending into a whirlpool of hate, terror and unrest.
Punjab Law Minister Rana Sanaullah rejected the call for his own resignation and that of the chief minister, saying such demands are made every other day.
In an interview with Geo TV on Thursday, he said if Shehbaz Sharif were to resign he would have done so around four years ago [when the Model Town incident happened].
Though the chief minister has no plan to resign over the issue, a clip from one of his past media talks shows him saying he would immediately tender his resignation if he would be held responsible for the killings by the judicial commission.
Sana and other government functionaries are claiming that Justice Najfi’f report has not fixed responsibility and it has not blamed anyone by name for the police massacre.
When Sana was asked to comment on the parallels that have been drawn between Faizabad police operation on November 25 and the Model Town incident, he said the Faizabad violence was unfortunate but incidents of police-protesters clash was nothing new as such incidents have occurred before in the country.
When asked why Zahid Hamid was made to resign as federal law minister on the demand of a religious pressure group, he rejected this impression.
He suggested that Hamid, sensing the gravity of the situation and sensitivity of the issue of Khatm-e-Nabuwat, himself wanted to resign after he was accused of being behind the changes in the oath for the electoral candidates.