LAHORE: Punjab Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif removed Law Minister Rana Sanaullah and his own secretary Dr Tauqir Shah on Friday, saying “the difficult decision was necessary to make it visible to everyone that justice is being done” in the Model Town police clash case.
The move was seen as a step to offset the pressure the ruling PML-N is facing after the Minhajul Quran incident. But it was immediately rejected by the organisation’s patron Dr Tahirul Qadri as a “drama”.
At least 10 activists of the Dr Qadri-led Pakistan Awami Tehreek had been killed and more than 100 injured during clashes on Tuesday with police who had raided the Minhaj offices to remove security barriers.
The capital city police officer, the DIG operations and several other police officers had already been sacked after the bloody operation.
The chief minister said at a press conference that the minister had been asked to resign and Dr Shah removed from his office so that they might not influence the investigation.
Mr Sanaullah tendered his resignation in accordance with the directive.
Sources told Dawn the removal had been ordered by Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif during a meeting in Islamabad on Thursday.
The prime minister also asked his younger brother Shahbaz to dispel an impression that the Punjab government was being run by bureaucrats by holding consultations with political figures.
Pledging to make “any sacrifice for the sake of a transparent investigation”, the chief minister said that although he had trust in the inquiry commission set up by the Lahore High Court, he had no objection if anybody wished to approach the Supreme Court for setting up a new panel or taking suo motu notice of the incident.
“Fingers are being pointed at me. I want to assure you I won’t sit peacefully until the victims are provided justice,” he said.
Recalling the services of Rana Sana for the party, especially during the Musharraf regime, and Dr Tauqir as his secretary during the past many years, he said the decision of their removal had been difficult for him but such steps had to be taken for the sake of justice.
If given an opportunity by the Minhaj administration, he was ready to visit them to pray for the deceased, he said.
Arguing that the government’s move vindicated his party’s stance, Dr Qadri rejected the sackings, terming them a farce.
Expressing apprehension that Mr Sanaullah would be restored after a few days “rest”, he called upon the chief minister himself to resign.
Rana Sanaullah was subjected to torture by the Musharraf regime for remaining loyal to the Sharifs. He has also been a vocal point man for the party in Punjab in countering verbal attacks on the Sharif brothers during the previous PPP government and now by the opposition.
Dr Tauqir, belonging to Potohar area, had been serving as secretary to the CM since 2008.
He had also helped the prime minister last year to pick “honest” bureaucrats for the federal government.
He is disliked by many, both in the PML-N and the government, for what his critics say blocking their access to the chief minister and a judicial tribunal had ordered that he should not be posted to any sensitive position and disciplinary action against him should be considered for leaking to the media an intelligence report about a plot to murder former LHC chief justice Khwaja Sharif.
Published in Dawn, June 21st, 2014