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Wednesday, May 22, 2024

Qadri adds to Sharifs’ misery: The Model Town Case is back to the fore

News Analysis |

It seems that the Sharif family has to fend-off multiple threats simultaneously. If the Panama verdict and its follow-up in shape of NAB references were not enough then Dr. Tahir-ul-Qadri’s return to Pakistan is likely to exacerbate the trouble for the bruised family.

While addressing the all-women sit-in held at the Mall Road Lahore to demand elusive justice for the victims of the Model Town carnage, rung alarm bells for the Sharif family. Qadri, who has often been accused of going the half throttle to get justice for the victims of Model Town called an end to the sit-in out of respect for the court. However, he said: “We have only two demands: the release of Baqir Najfi Commission report and constitution of the neutral bench under the supervision of Chief Justice of Lahore High Court.” “Our struggle is for Qisas of June 17. The daughters, sons, mothers, and sisters of the martyrs are demanding justice.”

He said that the size of the crowd shows that the affectees have not been forgotten; he vowed to fully partake in the sit-in. Spelling trouble for the Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif he said that one thief was already caught and the day was not far when the murderer would also be nabbed.

The carnage 

The tragic events of 17th June 2014 cast serious aspersions on the Punjab Government. Footages depicted a gory story where the police were carrying out a duck-shoot which resulted in the demise of 14 unarmed members of the Pakistan Awaami Tehreek (PAT) including pregnant women. With the police being a provincial subject; the place being yards away from the house of Shahbaz Sharif and the fact that no government official paid a visit to the affectees, PAT ascribed the daylight murders to the Punjab government especially Shahbaz Sharif and Rana Sanaullah.

Rana justified the police action rather haughtily; he said that Dr. Qadri had incited his disciples to defy the government. However, eyewitnesses and video footages presented a contrarian view to that dished out by Rana. He was removed from his position of Law Minister only to be reinstated.

The Judicial Commission headed by Justice Baqir Najfi gave serious findings on the involvement of the Punjab Government but the report has been hidden; the government has understandably refused to release the report with the accused Law Minister saying that it is the prerogative of the government.

The report compiled by Justice Baqir Ali Najfi of the Lahore High Court (LHC) directly holds Punjab government responsible for ‘bloodbath’ in Model Town area.

It was mentioned in the report that Punjab Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif had not ordained the police to ‘disengage’ from the clashes with Pakistan Awami Tehreek (PAT) supporters or hold fire for that matter, resulting in the deaths of at least 14 people and severe injuries to over 90 others.

The report says neither former Punjab law minister Rana Sanaullah nor former principal secretary to the chief minister, Dr. Tauqeer Shah, had mentioned in their affidavits to the commission that they had been directed by the chief minister to ‘disengage’ the police.

Senior journalist, Kamran Shahid read excerpts of the report much to the chagrin of Rana Sanaullah and the PML-N. The reinstated Law Minister has often taken to harsh words to censure Kamran for somehow pricking the bubble.

“We can snatch justice if we want, but we won’t take the law into our hands,” he said. “You will be hanged for Model Town incident,” said Dr. Qadri. He is being fully supported in his drive by the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf and Sheikh Rashid Ahmed.

It is reasonable to expect that the demand to the public will become more potent; if anything the Model Town is a really tough case for the Sharif family to dodge. If the revelations of the Najfi report are even half true, the Sharifs may be in deep trouble. The reticence and the refusal to release the report is adding to doubts and is giving the impression that something is wrong at the bottom.

The Sharif family has its work cut out as it has to exonerate itself from embezzlement and murder charges simultaneously.