LAHORE: The gulf between the two camps in Sharif house widened on Sunday after Nawaz loyalist Senator Pervez Rashid openly condemned Punjab government run by Shehbaz Sharif for not allowing Pashtun Tahafuz Movement (PTM) to hold a rally in Lahore.
Senator Pervez Rashid circulated a letter among media persons, expressing concern over denying permission to PTM for holding a rally in Lahore.
He said that it was the right time to address grievance of Pushtuns, instead of opening up old wounds. He said that the Punjab government should not only address their (Pashtuns’) Punjab-related grievances, but also play an active role in addressing their other concerns.
The Punjab government on the other hand dispelled the impression that it was somehow involved in curbing freedom of expression.
Government functionaries insisted that it was actually the district government of Lahore that had denied the permission to hold the rally because of security concerns.
They maintained that this should not be misconstrued as a move to curb freedom of expression.
Punjab Police also clarified that no PTM organiser was arrested to stop them from holding the rally.
Shehbaz Sharif also took to twitter on this issue and wrote: “Freedom of thought & expression is a constitutional right of all Pakistanis. Pashtun, Punjabi, Mohajir, Sindhi & Baloch are all equal Pakistanis. PMLN does not believe in politics of ethnicity. Pakistan belongs to all of its people. Let us work together (for) peaceful & prosperous Pakistan.”
This is the first time any top-tier leader from the Nawaz camp has openly criticised the provincial government.
Both Nawaz and Shehbaz Sharif differ widely on the key issue of accountability: Member of the Nawaz camp criticize and question state institutions for allegedly ensnaring him in corruption cases but Shehbaz Sharif and others in his camp have until now welcomed accountability and always been a vocal supporter of unity among institutions.
The Nawaz camp previously used to covertly criticise Shehbaz Sharif’s policy of unity among institutions. They believe that Shehbaz Sharif is eager to have good relations with all state institutions with the sole agenda of becoming the next prime minister.
On the other hand, members of the Shehbaz camp always termed confrontation among institutions as biggest impediment in national progress.