LAHORE – Opposition parties in Pakistan on Saturday set a deadline for top PML-N leadership in Punjab to resign in the wake of Justice Baqir Najafi findings into the 2014 killings of 14 PAT workers in Model Town.
Delegations of major political parties attended the All Parties Conference being held at the Minhaj-ul-Quran secretariat called by the Pakistan Awami Tehreek (PAT) over the Model Town incident inquiry report.
PAT President Tahirul Qadri opened the press conference with Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) Vice Chairman Shah Mehmood Qureshi and Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) leader Qamar Zaman Kaira reading out a 10-point statement outlining the demands.
Addressing the joint press conference Dr Tahir-ul-Qadri told journalists that in case the January 7 deadline for the resignations of Punjab Chief Minister Shehbaz Sharif and Law Minister Rana Sanaullah is not met, their steering committee will announce the future plan of action on January 8, which may include sit-ins in Lahore or across the country.
10-point statement by APC
- All Parties Conference condemns the Model Town incident and amendment in the Finality of Prophethood declaration.
- Model Town incident was the worst of state terrorism, in which the leadership of Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz, including Nawaz Sharif, Shehbaz Sharif and Rana Sanaullah were involved along with bureaucrats, police officers and Punjab government officials. They ordered firing at 100 people on the pretext of an anti-encroachment operation, martyring 14.
- The amendment in the Finality of the Prophethood is an attack on the faith of hundreds of thousands of Muslims and on the Constitution. Nawaz Sharif and PLM-N as a party were involved in this state terrorism. The mastermind behind amendment in the Finality of Prophethood declaration has neither been brought to the fore nor has the culprit been punished. PML-N has lost the right to hold power after attacking the faith. This conflict will continue till people involved in the crime are taken to task. APC demands the culprits be dealt with an iron fist.
- APC announced that people martyred and injured on June 17, 2014 in Model Town were not only workers of Pakistan Awami Tehreek but were citizens of Pakistan. It is the joint responsibility of all the parties in the APC to fight for justice for the people who were opened fire at. APC owns the efforts that will be undertaken for the purpose. Justice in the Model Town incident will prove to be a milestone for the rule of law.
- The bereaved families of Model Town incident have got only the report of Justice Baqir Najafi after waiting for justice for three and a half years. This proves that transparent investigation, trial, and provision of justice would not be possible in the case till Nawaz Sharif and Shehbaz Sharif will remain in power. Although 125 police officials were summoned, not a single one was arrested. Not only this, bureaucrats and government officials involved in the murder have not even been summoned. This shows that the incumbent government has failed to deliver justice.
- Since the report of Baqir Najafi Commission has declared Punjab Chief Minister Shehbaz Sharif and Punjab Law Minister Rana Sanaullah responsible for planning the Model Town incident, the APC demands that they and others involved in the crime step down from their positions before January 7, 2018. APC has mutually extended the deadline of December 31, 2017, to January 7, 2018. If resignations are not given by January 7, the steering committee will organize a meeting on January 8 and decide the next course of action for protest.
- APC demands that all provincial assemblies and Senate get resolutions approved regarding the resignation demands of Punjab CM Shehbaz Sharif and Punjab Law Minister Rana Sanaullah.
- Two FIRs of the Model Town incident are filed and the Punjab government constituted two joint investigation teams (JIT) on the issue. These JITs could not record the statements from families of the victims, killed and injured, in the incident. This means that the martyrdom has not been recorded in any of the two JITs. The law required statements from the complainant and victims for the sake of fair trial. Therefore, the APC demands the chief justice of Pakistan form a JIT taking suo motu notice on the incident which was against humanity, state, and the public. The APC also demanded a judge of the Supreme Court monitors the JIT.
- APC demands that no NRO be given — under internal or external pressure — to the Sharif family, which has looted the national wealth. The public will not accept it if relief of any sort is given to the Sharif family.
- APC has constituted a committee to decide the next course of action on the deadline, which will be called the Steering Committee of APC. The committee will have the authority to take action in case of an emergency. The Steering Committee will have the following members: Pakistan Peoples Party, Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf, Awami Muslim League, Majlis Wahdat-e-Muslimeen, Pak Sarzameen Party, Muslim Conference. Pakistan Awami Tehreek Secretary General Khurram Nawaz Gandapur will be the coordinator of the committee and Sardar Muhammad Lateef Khosa will be the legal adviser of the Steering Committee.
‘Standing against oppression’
Earlier, in his address, Qadri said that it is not his doing that over 40 parties have come to the same table, but the political leaders have gathered to stand against oppression. “They have come together in support of the judiciary, the army, and other state institutions,” he said, warning of protests if the PML-N leaders didn’t resign.
“The blood of the innocent people killed in the incident is what unites us today.”
“The Sharifs ordered the police to open fire and then they tell us to go to courts for justice,” said the PAT chief, adding that there can be no justice till the Sharif brothers are power.
Slamming Nawaz Sharif and his party further, the cleric said the former premier’s lifelong deeds led to his disqualification.
“Your character has been revealed in the Panama Papers case and now you are planning to run away and leave Pakistan, which is why you are seeking help from foreign powers, claimed the PAT chief while referring to the Saudi visit by the Sharif brothers.
“However, they cannot save you now, nothing can save you now.”
Warning the incumbent government, Qadri said that they have the option to protest, conduct sit-ins or take other measures which are deemed necessary in their quest for justice.
Leaders from PSP, PPP, PTI, MQM, PML-Q and other parties will present a joint front against the government in protest against the 2014 Model Town tragedy in which 14 people were killed and scores injured.
Qamar Zaman Kaira, Rehman Malik, Manzoor Wattoo and Latif Khosa are representing the PPP, while delegations of Pakistan Muslim League-Q (PML-Q) and Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam (JUI-F) have are also present at the conference.
Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) leaders Shah Mehmood Qureshi, Jehangir Tareen, Aleem Khan and Shafqat Mahmood are also present at PAT’s secretariat.
Qadri has stepped up demands for the resignation of Punjab Chief Minister Shehbaz Sharif and Law Minister Rana Sanuallah after the release of the Model Town inquiry report prepared by Justice Baqir Najfi commission.
PTI and PPP have meanwhile assured PAT of support for getting justice for the victims of the incident.
Model Town incident
The incident on June 17, 2014 claimed lives of at least 14 people and left over 100 others injured during an ‘anti-encroachment operation’ by Punjab Police outside Idara Minhajul Quran in Lahore’s Model Town.
On December 5, the Punjab government on Lahore High Court’s orders had made the report of the Model Town incident public. The inquiry report said that police tried to cover up the facts regarding who gave orders to open fire on protesters.
It added that no legal opinion was sought from the Punjab advocate general prior to the start of the operation.