ISLAMABAD, Sept 22: Worried over the trend of violence during Friday’s protest demonstrations across the country, the PML(N)-led Punjab government has convened a conference on Monday (tomorrow) to discuss the causes and to devise a strategy to handle such a situation in future.
According to a party spokesman, Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif has invited security experts and analysts, psychologists, religious scholars, lawyers and civil society representatives, social scientists and political experts besides high officials of the provincial government to discuss the causes of violence during the widespread protest demonstrations.
At least 24 people, including two policemen, were killed in sporadic acts of violence during rallies taken out by different religious organisations in protest against the anti-Islam film in almost all major cities of the country on Friday.
The ruling Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) later alleged that there were “political factors” behind the violence during the protest and accused the opposition PML-N of inciting the protesters to resort to violence.
Two key federal cabinet members — Interior Minister Rehman Malik and Information Minister Qamar Zaman Kaira — alleged that the Punjab government did not take any step to prevent the protesters from entering the federal capital from the Rawalpindi city.
Talking to reporters on Friday night, the interior minister announced that a judicial inquiry would be conducted to ascertain as to who had brought the protesters to the capital after stuffing them into vehicles, alleging that these protests were held at the behest of the Punjab government.
Mr Malik said despite a written request of the Islamabad police, the Punjab government did not stop the protesters from entering the capital.
The minister also said the activists of banned organisations from Punjab also participated in the protest against anti-Islamic film that created law and order situation in the capital.
Information Minister Qamar Zaman Kaira while speaking to a private TV channel alleged that the situation in Islamabad became serious as the Punjab government did not perform its duty.
Instead, he alleged, the Punjab government was fanning the protests against the blasphemous film.
Responding to the allegations, a spokesman for the Punjab government and a PML-N Senator Pervez Rashid said the federal government was responsible for the security of the capital. He asked the federal government to accept its failure, instead of indulging itself in a blame game.
Talking to Dawn, PML-N’s media coordinator Asim Khan said the party leadership was perturbed over the recent trend of violence in the country during protest rallies and on special days as it believed that if this trend was allowed to continue then it would be difficult for any political party to give any call for protest or agitation in future.
“It is in this background that the Punjab government has arranged the conference on Monday,” he added. Meanwhile, sources in the PML-N said that party chief Nawaz Sharif was planning to “address the nation” through a news conference on Monday to make an appeal to the people to remain calm and peaceful during their protests against the anti-Islam movie.
Mr Sharif, they said, would also respond to the PPP’s charges against the party.