Opposition parties railed against the government on Monday for barricading the country’s capital and preventing Pakistan Awami Tehreek (PAT) leader Dr Tahirul Qadri from landing there.
“The interior minister should resign for what happened today,” said Awami National Party’s acting president Senator Haji Muhammad Adeel. The Pakistan Peoples Party, meanwhile, recalled how former president Asif Ali Zardari had allowed the PAT leader to return to Pakistan in 2013 and stage a sit-in in the capital, comparing it unfavorably with the actions of the present government.
Speaking with The Express Tribune, Haji Adeel claimed the government’s strategy to lock down the cities of Lahore and Islamabad had brought life to a standstill. “There was no need for this drama as Qadri could have invited the Punjab governor to Dubai for a chat. Both the government and Qadri are hoodwinking the nation,” he said.
Shazia Marri also refered to the government’s performance in parliament, saying that only one bill had been passed during the PML-N’s first year. “This is very sad for me as a parliamentarian as the parliament is not effective and the government is shirking its responsibilities,” she said. “We are amazed about who is advising the government, since their plans so far have been counter productive.”
Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) also felt the government had mishandled the issue. “There is no precedent of firing on protesters and the issue was mishandled in Lahore,” said former senator Shafqat Mehmood. “There was no threat at all to the democratic system but the rulers had some panic in their hearts.”
Don’t mistake ‘moral support’ for alliance: MQM
The Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM) put the government on notice on Monday that it has not decided to align itself with the current opposition movement even though its workers had lent ‘symbolic and moral support’ to Pakistan Awami Tehreek during Tahirul Qadri’s arrival in Lahore.
MQM representatives were present at the airport in Lahore and Islamabad on Monday on the call of the PAT chief, who landed in Lahore Monday morning after his flight was diverted from its original destination of Islamabad. However, the party’s senior member Haider Abbas Rizvi cautioned that the party’s support should not be misconstrued. “The MQM has not yet decided to align itself with opposition parties who have announced a grand alliance with Qadri to bring about a change in government. Nothing has been received at Nine Zero that can be called an invite to join the anti-government alliance.”
Earlier, MQM chief Altaf Hussain strongly condemned the government for not allowing Qadri’s airplane to land at its intended destination. “It is the political and democratic right of the workers of any political or religious party to welcome their leader,” the party chief said in a statement.
Published in The Express Tribune, June 24th, 2014.