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Disunity evident among opposition forces at PAT protest

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News Analysis |

Pakistan Awami Tehreek (PAT) chief Dr. Tahirul Qadri Wednesday said that they do not want to take a step against Pakistan’s constitution and democracy, and only want an end of the “sultanate of Sharifs.”

The protest that took place on Wednesday on Mall Road in Lahore was against the Pakistan Muslim League – Nawaz (PML-N) government – to seek justice for victims of the Model Town tragedy. The Model Town incident on June 17th, 2014, had resulted in deaths of 14 people and injured around 100 during an ‘anti-encroachment operation’ by the Punjab Police outside Idara Minhajul Quran, the PAT’s head office.

Imran Khan is notorious for being fond of solo flights instead of alliances in election campaigns and he has publicly made it known that he considers  Zardari & Nawaz as two sides of the same coin.

The allied opposition parties Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI), Pakistan People’s Party (PPP), Awami Muslim League (AML), Pakistan Muslim League-Q, Jamaat-e-Islami (JI), Pak Sarzameen Party (PSP), and Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM) were present at the rally and said that they would announce their course of action in a few days.

The rally was conducted in two sessions, one chaired by the PPP chairman Asif Ali Zardari and the other presided by the PTI chief Imran Khan. The number of participants varied since the supporters of a party only joined when their leaders were presiding over the session, the peak of the rally was reached when Imran Khan delivered his speech.

Read more: PTI to join Qadri in Model Town massacre protest

Addressing the allied opposition rally, Qadri thanked leaders and workers from all political parties for attending the show of strength in Lahore. He said that they all had gathered to get justice for the victims of the Model Town tragedy. “We have gathered here to save the country from Sheikh Mujeeb of a new era.” He lamented that the rights of the people were being usurped and the national treasury plundered in the country.

This highlights that the phrase “enemy of my enemy” does not add in the machinations of at least PTI.  It seems that PAT has been unable to bridge the divide between the PTI and PPP sufficiently to make a formidable anti PML (N) alliance.

Qadri maintained that they do not want to sabotage peace in the country. “We only want put an end to your cruelty. If we had to take the law into our own hands, then we would not have tolerated tragedies.” He maintained that their protest is aimed at getting justice for the oppressed.

Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) Co-Chairman Asif Ali Zardari on Wednesday said that the only danger to the country is from Jati Umra. He also said that they can send the government packing at any time but he chooses not to do so. ‘PPP will not go to that extent but we cannot allow Nawaz Sharif to become another Sheikh Mujeeb,’ he claimed. ‘Pakistan has a long journey ahead,’ he stressed to the rally.

Read more: Qadri-led multi-party conference demands Shehbaz and Sana resignations

“Humans do not have a journey, nations do. We eat the crops grown on this soil, so our allegiance is with this country.” The former president also lashed out at military dictators taking over the country and denounced martial law administrator Zia-ul-Haq’s decisions of the past. “Dictators do not build countries, they only destroy them. The problems that we have today are gifts from Zia-ul-Haq,” Zardari told the rally.

Dr. Tahirul Qadri has announced that he’ll hold an APC meeting in a couple of days but if the agenda was going to be decided at a meeting, there was no point of holding a rally.

However, unease was evident in the gathering when Asif Ali Zardari and other PPP leaders left the protest before the arrival of PTI Leader Imran Khan. Already workers of PPP and PTI were baffled at the news that former President Asif Ali Zardari and Imran Khan may share the stage at a protest rally. However, PTI sources asserted that Imran Khan would not ascend to the stage if Zardari was still present.

Sheikh Rasheed of Awami Muslim League (AML) addressed the rally when Imran Khan made it to the stage. He cursed the parliament for being toadies of the Sharif family and announced his resignation from the National Assembly (NA). He also requested Imran Khan and his party PTI to resign from the assemblies.

Read more: Tahir ul Qadri holds press conference after Model Town report decision

After Shiekh Rasheed, Imran Khan took the stage, “I curse the parliament that made a criminal the president of a party,” he said, hinting towards the bill that made Nawaz Sharif the president of PML-N again. “The two Sharif brothers are responsible for the Model Town killing,” said Imran. “I can say without beyond a shadow of a doubt that the Model Town killing was done on orders of the Sharif family.”

Holding a rally has a huge impact near elections, when the parties are trying to gain supporters and voters, but the purpose of this rally was altogether different. PAT and all the All Parties Committee (APC) still stand where they stood before the rally.

Responding to Sheikh Rasheed’s request, he said he will talk to his party regarding the resignations. “Nowhere in the world does the police open fire on its citizens. The police force is supposed to shoot terrorists, not citizens,” Imran lamented. “We stand with you Tahirul Qadri sahib. All of us witnessed how ruthlessly people were murdered.

Read more: Qadri adds to Sharifs’ misery: The Model Town Case is back…

We are all gathered here to get justice,” he announced. Imran advised Qadri to extend the rally if they want to get justice for the Model Town victims. Even though fiery speeches were made on the rally, it is not yet clear what the rally has accomplished. No future agenda was decided or any deadline given. Promises were made by all parties but it was not made clear how those promises would be fulfilled.

Already workers of PPP and PTI were baffled at the news that former President Asif Ali Zardari and Imran Khan may share the stage at a protest rally.

Holding a rally has a huge impact near elections, when the parties are trying to gain supporters and voters, but the purpose of this rally was altogether different. PAT and all the All Parties Committee (APC) still stand where they stood before the rally. Dr. Tahirul Qadri has announced that he’ll hold an APC meeting in a couple of days but if the agenda was going to be decided at a meeting, there was no point of holding a rally.

Read more: A conversation with Dr. Tahir ul Qadri

This highlights that the phrase “enemy of my enemy” does not add in the machinations of at least PTI. Imran Khan is notorious for being fond of solo flights instead of alliances in election campaigns and he has publicly made it known that he considers Zardari & Nawaz as two sides of the same coin. It seems that PAT has been unable to bridge the divide between the PTI and PPP sufficiently to make a formidable anti PML (N) alliance.


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