The Pakistan Muslim League Nawaz (PML-N) held its protest against load shedding and the federal government on Saturday, though the rally was noticeably smaller than the Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) protest on the same issue a day earlier.
PML-N supporters gathered at Lohari Gate and marched to Urdu Bazaar, where MNA Hamza Shahbaz, son of Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif, and PML-N Lahore President Pervez Malik, also an MNA, gave speeches blaming the Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP)-led coalition government in Islamabad for the long power outages in the Punjab.
Meanwhile, a PPP leader wrote to President Asif Ali Zardari stating that the Punjab government was carrying out a “seditious campaign of protests” against the Centre and called for the dismissal of the provincial government and imposition of governor’s rule.
The PML-N rally was led by Hamza Shahbaz, filling in for his father who left for London on a private visit on Friday. Addressing the participants, Shahbaz said that President Zardari was solely responsible for the electricity shortage in the country. Referring to the Supreme Court’s verdict in the rental power projects case, released on Friday, Shahbaz said that instead of acting to stem the energy shortfall during their time in office, the president and prime minister had chosen to reward their cronies with illegal contracts. Pervez Malik said that Saturday’s rally was the start of the chief minister’s “long march” against the federal government over load shedding. He said the rally showed that the people of Lahore were still with the PML-N.
However, the turnout at the rally was clearly smaller than the rally a day earlier. Some observers said the PML-N’s rally was about a quarter of the size of the PTI rally on the same issue.
PPP leader Fawad Chaudhry wrote to President Zardari suggesting that he dismiss the provincial government and institute governor’s rule in the wake of “the Punjab government’s sponsorship of a seditious campaign against the federal government”.
He wrote that Law Minister Rana Sanaullah, MNAs Khurram Dastgir and Abid Sher Ali and MPA Hafiz Noman had “attacked state and private properties” and WAPDA employees.
“All this has been conducted with the help and under the guidance of the chief minister. Such actions … attract the provisions of Article 234 of the Constitution and the president is under a constitutional obligation to dismiss the Punjab government and impose governors’ rule in the province,” said the letter.
Published in The Express Tribune, April 1st, 2012.
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