Upholding democratic values: PML-N lambasts army’s ‘meddling’ in politics

Sherpao warns against separatist sentiments.


Zia Khan June 14, 2011

ISLAMABAD:


Legislators from the opposition party Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) stepped up criticism of the military’s perceived interference in politics at the cost of national security in the National Assembly on Monday.


PML-N MNA Khawaja Saad Rafiq launched a direct attack on Prime Minister Yousaf Raza Gilani and one of his cabinet members for ‘letting down the parliament and defending unbridled defence institutions’. “When we raised the issue of the coldblooded, brutal murder of an unarmed youth by rangers last week, the prime minister accused us of defaming the military,” Rafiq said.

Gilani had advised against criticising ‘state institutions’ for ‘acts of individuals’. The word of caution came from the premier when MPs from the PML-N rallied against the rangers for killing a young man Sarfaraz Shah, who was reportedly robbing a family in a park in Karachi.

“A corrupt democracy cannot bring any institution under the ambit of the law and the constitution,” Rafiq said, amid sloganeering by party colleagues shortly before they staged a token walkout.

Another PML-N stalwart also came down hard on the government for refusing to remove Sindh police chief and DG Sindh rangers despite a Supreme Court order. “Democracy does not confer a licence to kill or plunder,” said Ahsan Iqbal, PML-N’s information secretary.

Meanwhile, Aftab Ahmed Khan Sherpao, chief of Pakistan Peoples Party-Sherpao (PPP-S), warned of the rise of ‘separatist’ sentiments in tribal areas and Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa if the government fails to take pragmatic steps to halt a covert US drone war targeting al Qaeda.

“No such slogan has ever been raised until now but if blood continues to be spilled and nobody makes an effort to change the status quo, we will live to regret it,” cautioned the former interior minister in a speech to the National Assembly on Monday.

Sherpao warned that mounting anger over the killing of innocent people in strikes by unmanned predator planes might spiral out of control. “Drones are pounding tribal areas and their impact can be felt everywhere in the Pakhtun belt,” he said.

His demands were seconded by Nasir Ali Shah, an MNA of the ruling PPP from Balochistan, who announced that he would boycott the remaining session in protest against the government’s failure to stop drone strikes and control a nationalist insurgency in his home province. Shah demanded an end to military and semi-military operations in Balochistan. He also asked for an investigation into the failures of the armed forces and penalties for those responsible.

Published in The Express Tribune, June 14th, 2011.

COMMENTS (4)

Sadia Zaheer | 10 years ago | Reply When it comes to political rivalry, all claims to democracy, freedom of speech, and individual rights are conveniently forgotten and oppressive tactics are let loose. The Punjab ‘lions’ did exactly the same on June 18 at Ravi Town. All their claims stood exposed. A local ex-naib nazim had announced support to the All Pakistan Muslim League (APML) and wanted to hold a workers’ convention. So he applied to the district coordination officer (DCO), police, etc, for the required permissions about two weeks in advance. A week earlier, the DCO sent out letters to all concerned to report back before issuing the ‘clearance’. It is said that all the reports were positive and the police contingents visited the site on Fort Road and showed no concern to the organiser. Now the ‘upper’ echelons came into action. The organisers kept running to the DCO’s office to face a perpetual silence. However, whispers were heard that permission would be granted but only at the last moment so that the preparations are slowed down due to doubt. The cat, however, was out of the bag in the afternoon of June 18. Police contingents arrived at the site and ordered immediate removal of the preparatory materials. The rallies of workers started to arrive at about 8:00 pm and within a short time there were thousands. The police filed an FIR against anyone they could recognise and all others, about 400-500 unnamed. It is a harassment tool to start action at any time at any place. The unnamed are named as and when required. The police sword keeps hanging. One wonders what is this all about? Are we never going to change? The same old tactics by the party in power against their political opponents. How do the Mian sahibs claim to be the champions of upholding the law and constitution? They were groomed by a dictator and continue to be a worse kind of dictator. No tolerance is their style. What heavens would have fallen if the applicant were allowed the convention? In fact, it would have helped the Punjab government in improving its image if they had gracefully accorded the permission. They would have set a democratic tradition. But, alas, small minds prevailed. The DCO never got the ‘nod’ from the top and preferred to save his job by the use of power. Mian Nawaz Sharif grumble that military is responsible for all the crimes. The fact is that he himself has grown under the shade of armed rule! The so-called champions of democracy would not let anyone grow unless he/she was their rishtedar (relative) or zamindar (landlord) or maaldar (wealthy) or a deradar (camp follower), thanedar (police officer. Punjab Govt has successfully taken politics out of the hands of the common man and safely landed it in the hands of the influential and the rich. In their style of politics, anyone who wants to express himself deserves another dar, the daar (gallows) that Faiz refers to.
Munir | 10 years ago | Reply @Asmat Jamal Excellent comments.
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