LAHORE - The Pakistan Awami Tehrik, supported by a number of other parties that participated in a conference, has reiterated its demand that Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif being “responsible” for the June 17 Model Town tragedy step down and a commission comprising three former Supreme Court judges of impeccable integrity be constituted to investigate the killings.

The government’s spokesman, as expected, once again rejected the demand, advising the people at large not to take the PAT chief’s utterances seriously.

This shows both sides are adhering to their stated positions. The only difference is that PAT’s demand which previously came from one party has now been endorsed by a number of others. In case the two sides stick to their guns, tensions will grow in the days ahead – especially after Eid.

In democratic societies conscientious representatives accept responsibility for such tragedies even if they are not directly responsible. But such a healthy tradition cannot be expected of the power-hungry lot.

Opinions may differ on the justification for the PAT’s demand that the chief minister resign for the sake of fair investigation. But, the chief minister himself weakened his case for not stepping down when he removed Rana Sanaullah as law minister and Dr Tauqeer as his principal secretary for the sake of fair investigations.

This has strengthened the argument that if a minister and a secretary were in a position to influence investigations, their boss was even in a stronger position to do so.

Now, either the CM’s decision to remove the minister and the secretary was unjustified or his clinging to power defies logic.

The killing of more than a dozen people by police firing is something which has brought the government a very bad name. Justice demands that the government should take all steps to satisfy the aggrieved families. But this is not going to happen.

When the PAT held eight top government leaders responsible for the Model Town tragedy, the chief minister held a news conference to say that he would have no objection if somebody gets a case registered against him. He said he is answerable to Allah as well as people’s court. This was a very reasonable stand.

But so far the Faisal Town police have not registered a case on the basis of a complaint filed by the PAT.

The Faisal Town police station house officer registered a case on the tragic incident against some 3,000 ‘terrorists’, with Dr Tahirul Qadri’s elder son Dr Hussain Mohayuddin as the principal accused.

The very next day the name of Dr Qadri’s son was excluded from the FIR.

This established beyond doubt that the Punjab police could do anything on their own or to please their masters.

A case in which legal provisions relating to terrorism have been invoked cannot be investigated in such a short time. The chief minister should have asked the worthy ‘efficient’ investigators how they reached both the conclusions within a matter of hours.

Many allege that it was the political leadership that was dictating the police what they have to do.

Knowing well that Dr Qadri was out to do anything to bring the PML-N government down, the rulers tried to teach him a lesson. It was for this reason that first an operation had been launched to remove security barricades outside Dr Qadri’s residence, put up on court orders, and then when more than a dozen people were killed his son was nominated in the FIR.

However, when the strong-arm methods failed to bring the PAT leadership to terms, a new strategy was tried under which the name of the principal accused removed from the FIR.

As for the investigations of the tragedy, the results are predictable. The police will certainly come up with findings that suit the rulers’ interests. A police that can nominate someone as principal accused and then exclude him from the list can do anything.

The findings of the one-man tribunal can also be assessed in advance. The PAT has boycotted the proceedings and the judge has only to rely upon the unilateral statements recorded by the government functionaries.

There is a little possibility of the government agreeing to constitute another commission to look into the matter, as demanded by the APC participants. This will provide the PAT with a justification to come out on the streets. And a number of parties that participated in Sunday’s APC may also decide to join the chorus.

On the other hand the government has also rejected Imran Khan’s demands made at the recent Bahawalpur rally. After this the PTI plans to start a million-man march on Islamabad on August 14, the Independence Day.

Maybe the opposition parties fail to pull down the government even as a result of collective efforts. But they may certainly create a situation which will adversely affect the development plans conceived by the rulers. The dreams of foreign investment inflowing into Pakistan will not materialise.

Sagacity demands that the government should go the extra mile to satisfy the opposition and persuade them to give up plans that could hamper the pace of progress.