Punjab Minister for Law and Parliamentary Affairs Rana Sanaullah Khan and Principal Secretary to the Chief Minister Dr Toqueer Shah were sacked on Friday over the June 17 deadly police crackdown on Pakistan Awami Tehreek workers.
“I’ve decided to remove Rana Sanaullah and Dr Toqueer Shah from their posts in order to ensure fair and transparent investigations into the incident,” Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif told a news conference at the PML-N Central Secretariat in Lahore.
He added that Sanaullah had spent time in prison and faced many difficulties for the sake of democracy during the dictatorial regime, while Dr Shah had been working with him for the last 15 years and was like his younger brother.
“In order to ensure a transparent inquiry, I have decided to remove them from their positions so that they cannot influence justice,” Shahbaz said, adding that he had already transferred the Capital City Police Officer (CCPO), DIG Operations and SP Model Town in order to ensure justice.
Sanaullah, who was also the minister for local government and community development in the provincial cabinet, has sent his resignation to the chief minister and will work only as a member of the Punjab Assembly.
Shahbaz said he was satisfied with the Lahore High Court (LHC) and the judicial commission probing the June 18 tragedy. However, he added that he would not have any objection if someone moved the Supreme Court. “I will welcome, if the Supreme Court takes suo motu notice of the incident,” he said.
PAT chief Tahirul Qadri has refused to meet a delegation of the Punjab cabinet, Shahbaz said, adding that he wanted to visit the Minhajul Quran Secretariat to offer condolences. He said Dr Qadri could come back but it was the government responsibility to maintain law and order.
Referring to the May 12, 2007 killings, Shahbaz said: “When 42 people were killed in Karachi, those who are shedding crocodile tears today were celebrating with those waving fist in Islamabad.”
According to sources privy to the development, the decision to remove Sanaullah and Dr Shah was taken in a meeting between Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif and his younger brother. Dr Shah, Sanaullah Khan and Fawad Hassan Fawad also attended the meeting.
Provincial Education Minister Rana Mashhood is being tipped as possible replacement for Sanaullah as provincial law minister. Similarly, Punjab Higher Education Secretary Abdullah Sumbul is likely to replace Dr Shah as Principal Secretary to the CM. However, some sources believe the removal of Sanaullah and Dr Shah is a temporary arrangement and they would be restored once the pressure subsided.
The judicial commission probing the June 17 tragedy has invited the administration of Minhajul Quran Central Secretariat for their statements as it sought records relevant to ‘the gory incident’ from electronic and print media.
The commission – comprising Justice Ali Baqar Najfi of the LHC – directed its registrar to send a formal invitation to the Minhajul Quran administration for presenting their viewpoint and evidence before the commission.
It also invited all electronic media persons to assist the commission. “The tribunal would feel much satisfied if the statements of the media people are also recorded. All media houses are invited to produce all relevant material,” it said.
The IGP Punjab also appeared before the tribunal and submitted report detailing the police officials deputed for the operation and their weapons. The report was made part of the record.
Published in The Express Tribune, June 21st, 2014.