Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif has asked Punjab Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif to oversee security arrangements for Pakistan Awami Tehreek (PAT) chief Dr Tahirul Qadri when the latter returns to the country on June 23.
Following his return from a two-day trip to Tajikistan, the prime minister was briefed by the Punjab chief minister on Tuesday’s deadly clash between police and PAT workers in Lahore at a high-level meeting in Islamabad on Thursday.
Realising that his government has opened up too many fronts, Prime Minister Nawaz also directed members of his cabinet and Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) activists to cool their tempers and avoid unnecessary statements before the media.
“I think you will see some change in the tone of ministers from today (Friday) onwards,” a PML-N leader told The Express Tribune.
“There was a general realisation that unnecessary statements after the tragedy [in Lahore] did not do the government any good and created an unnecessary fuss,” an official privy to the meeting said.
Apart from the chief minister, the meeting was attended by the ministers of defence, information, planning and development, railways and states and frontier regions.
According to the official handout released after the meeting, Shahbaz informed Premier Nawaz that severe action was being taken against those found responsible for the Lahore tragedy.
However, it stopped short of elaborating what concrete action the government would take against those who orchestrated the raid. Some PML-N insiders claim that the Lahore operation was the brainchild of a key minister of the Punjab government.
Sources said that before the Lahore incident, the government was working on a plan to take Qadri into custody as soon as he landed at Islamabad airport. The incident jeopardised the plan, they added.
Shahbaz urges PAT to withdraw boycott
Shahbaz Sharif has asked Dr Qadri to withdrawn his decision to boycott the judicial commission constituted to probe the clash between police and PAT workers in Lahore.
“The judicial process is the only way to ensure justice. Boycotting it will be a grave injustice to the deceased and their families,” Shahbaz said. He said the commission had already started its inquiry and would bring facts before the nation soon.
The chief minister added he was determined to fulfill ‘the demands of justice’ and the guilty would not be allowed to escape. He promised the course of justice would not be hampered and tampering with medical records of the injured would not be tolerated.
“Police authorities and provincial administration have been given instructions in this regard,” he said.
Qadri’s Tehreek-e-Minhajul Quran, however, rejected Shahbaz’s appeal and instead filed an application with the police, naming him and Prime Minister Nawaz among those responsible for the Model Town tragedy.
Published in The Express Tribune, June 20th, 2014.