While the armed forces had borne the brunt of criticism following the unilateral US operation to kill Osama bin Laden on Pakistani soil, political leaders have now called for the resignations of the political leadership of the country.
Leading the chorus of discontent was former foreign minister and estranged member of the Pakistan Peoples Party Shah Mahmood Qureshi, who said on Saturday that President Asif Ali Zardari and Prime Minister Yousaf Raza Gilani had failed to show their leadership.
His call was echoed by Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz leader Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan, leader of the opposition in the National Assembly.
Speaking to the media, Qureshi, who was removed as foreign minister in February, demanded that the parliamentary committee on national security instead of the army conduct an inquiry into the Abbottabad incident.
He asked why the prime minister had still not called a meeting of the Cabinet’s defence committee to discuss the matter.
He also demanded that the PPP convene a meeting of its central executive committee within a week, where he will ask the party leadership to explain the grounds on which they had formed an alliance with the Pakistan Muslim League-Quaid (PML-Q).
Separately, Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan also had harsh words for the government. “The operation tramples on our honour and dignity, and the president and prime minister must either give an explanation or resign,” Nisar told reporters at the Allama Iqbal International Airport, where he was to welcome back his party chief Nawaz Sharif.
Sharif on Saturday arrived back from the UK, where he had been for around two months. He had initially travelled there for medical checkups for this wife, but he himself ended up having to undergo heart surgery.
At the airport, the leader of Opposition in the National Assembly also criticised the country’s powerful intelligence agencies, saying that they had “deviated from their real role,” while the federal government was under pressure and silent on the issue.
Pakistan’s military and intelligence agencies have been greatly criticised across the globe for failing to detect Bin Laden’s whereabouts, despite his proximity to the Pakistan Military Academy. “Those who are responsible must admit and quit,” said Nisar.
He also said that there should not have been ‘two policies’ on the May 2 incident in Abbottabad. He said that in a democratic set up, only the federal government issues a statement – however, in this case, the army had issued a statement while the government is still silent.
The president has only expressed his views in an article published in a US-based English newspaper, he said. Even the PPP’s activists are demanding Zardari’s resignation, Nisar said.
He said the PML-N has prepared 12 questions to ask the federal government at the next session of the National Assembly on May 9. The party will be pleased if the prime minister himself responds to the questions, he said.
The PML-N will devise its strategy after questions are answered, he said, adding that the PML-N will not allow the government to run the country as per normal routine following the Abbottabad debacle.
Over the last three years, the federal government has not convened a single meeting on the war on terror, Nisar claimed.
Sharif will remain at his residence in Raiwind, Lahore, till Monday after which he will leave for Islamabad to attend a party meeting on May 10 (Tuesday).
Published in The Express Tribune, May 8th, 2011.
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