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APC in Lahore: What will it achieve against the Sharif Family?

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GVS News Analysis |

At least 12 political parties, including smaller religious entities are set to attend the All Parties Conference (APC) called by Dr. Tahir ul Qadri of Pakistan Awami Tehrik (PAT), in Lahore. Question on the minds of political analysts is: What will be the impact? 

12 Political Parties are Joining in APC

Major political parties like Pakistan Tehrik e Insaf (PTI), Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP), Jammat -e- Islami (JI), Pak Sarzameen Party (PSP), Pakistan Muslim League Q (PMLQ) all attending either through top leadership or large delegations. In addition to this, smaller parties like Majlis-e-Wahdat ul Muslameen, and newer religious factions are attending.

PMLN’s leader and Punjab’s law minister, himself the main accused in the Model Town Killings, has however called the APC a mere political agenda of the opposition parties. 

Delegations have started arriving, however its not clear if top leaders like Asif Ali Zardari, Siraj ul Haq will personally attend. Mustafa Kamal of Pak Sarzameen Party has arrived from Karachi and Ch. Shujjat Hussain of PMLQ and Sheikh Rashid of Awami Muslim League (AML) are attending personally. 

Who and Who is Attending: Why its Important? 

Dr. Qadri had, some days ago, created a stir by claiming that he will make Imran Khan and Zardari sit on his right and left. However its now clear that Imran Khan will not personally attend and PTI will be represented by a delegation headed by Shah Mehmood Qureshi and will be joined by Jehangir Khan Tareen, Mohammad Sarwar (ex-Governor Punjab) and others.

And its almost certain that Zardari or Bilwal will not personally attend. PPP delegation will be headed by Khurshid Shah (leader of the opposition in National Assembly) and consists of Qamar Zaman Kaira, Lateef Khosa and Manzoor Watoo. Similarly Jammat’s leader Siraj ul Haq is being represented by Liaqat Baloch. 

Media commentators, like Dunya News Anchor, Moeed Pirzada, insist that Saudi Arabia might only be a face, a platform, and pressure for a deal for the Sharifs, may be coming from Washington

Why who is attending is important? Political analysts think that major decisions like launching a movement, causing blockades of cities etc are not possible by the secondary leadership of major parties. However its also note worthy that in the past few days, both Imran Khan and Asif Ali Zardari have met Dr. Tahir ul Qadri in person, and in fact Asif Zardari has met Dr. Tahir ul Qadri twice,  the last meeting was on Fri, 29th December.

And many insiders – like many businessmen who have met Zardari and top PTI leadership in the last few days – to the process insist that both PPP and PTI are dead serious in capitalizing on this moment against PMLN and Punjab’s CM, Shahbaz Sharif – and this will not be a repeat of 2014 for various reasons. However, how will they do this, or achieved their ends is not clear. 

Read more: Old habits never die: Sharif family ignores NAB summons and challenges…

US-Saudi Deal for Sharif Family? 

CM Punjab, Shahbaz Sharif, on the other hand, has landed in Saudi Arabia on a special plane, sent by Saudi Intelligence. Nawaz Sharif is now on his way to Jeddah, but on a normal commercial flight. The fact that Shahbaz has been invited through a “Special Plane” from Saudi Arabia is itself symbolic and sends the message that Shahbaz is being given a preferential treatment and is being accepted as a leader by the Saudis.

Rana publicly accuses that a financial deal for compensation, of Rs. 10 crore for each family fell through when Dr. Qadri had insisted that compensation be paid abroad. Dr. Qadri and his spokesmen strongly deny these allegations. 

However media commentators, like Dunya News Anchor, Moeed Pirzada, insist that Saudi Arabia might only be a face, a platform, and pressure for a deal for the Sharifs, may be coming from Washington where ex-premier, Nawaz Sharif has hired a top ranking lobbyist firm which, its believed, recently convinced New York Times to add Maryam Nawaz to the list of 11 Most Powerful Women in the world, creating the impressions of international seal of approval for Nawaz’s daughter and heir apparent.

Its widely know that Trump’s powerful son in law, and Ivanka Trump’s husband, Jarred Kushner, and Saudi Crown Prince, Mohammad Bin Salman, are very close to each other and Washington’s influence on the issue has a clear axis – yet visible Saudi role provides Washington a plausible deniability. 

APC in Lahore is thus taking place in this background. Will Pakistani politics be decided by the international players from Washington and Jeddah? This is a now a question on the minds of all political parties and is being openly discussed in TV programs and News broadcasts.

Read more: Pakistani political parties join hands to increase pressure on Sharif family

Moral Solution to the Model Town Killings? 

But also important is: will Pakistani politics find a moral solution to the police killings in Model Town in June 2014? Fourteen people, including two women, were killed and almost 100 were shot by Punjab police in the center of Lahore when Punjab government sent several police contingents to central offices of Minhaj-ul-Quran.

APC and its wide attendance demonstrates the increasing isolation of PMLN govt. However will opposition parties be united enough to launch a movement against Punjab government has yet to be seen. 

The official reason advanced was that police was sent to clear the illegal road barriers erected by the party around its party premises. However sufficient evidence always existed that Police were sent to teach a lesson to the workers of PAT, one week before the planned arrival of Dr. Qadri from abroad. Qadri had announced a movement against the PMLN government and government actions were calculated to teach a lesson to create fear and to prevent that political movement by Dr. Qadri.

This reality, always known to media and political circles, got credibility with the final publication of Justice Baqar Najfi Report in November this year – providing a rare focal point of unity for all opposition parties against the PMLN government.

Model Town massacre at the behest of a govt. then represents a major challenge to the model of governance in Pakistan and raises the question:what is the nature of democracy in Pakistan? APC and its wide attendance demonstrates the increasing isolation of PMLN govt. However will opposition parties be united enough to launch a movement against Punjab government has yet to be seen. 

Read more: Panama JIT reviews the questionable history of the Sharif family

APC is a Political Agenda: Rana Sanaullah 

PMLN’s leader and Punjab’s law minister, himself the main accused in the Model Town Killings, has however called the APC a mere political agenda of the opposition parties. Other PMLN leaders, off the record, comment that Dr. Qadri will never launch a “dharna” or movement because he had abandoned the “dharna” in 2014, after striking a deal with the PMLN. Rana publicly accuses that a financial deal for compensation, of Rs. 10 crore for each family fell through when Dr. Qadri had insisted that compensation be paid abroad. Dr. Qadri and his spokesmen strongly deny these allegations. 


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