LAHORE: Pakistan Awami Tehreek (PAT) chief Tahirul Qadri on Wednesday called the government’s stance on Justice Ali Baqar Najafi’s report on the Model Town incident a pack of lies, and stressed that the report carried sufficient evidence to convict Punjab Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif and provincial Law Minister Rana Sanaullah, among others.

The PAT leader explained that his organisation’s legal team needed some time to study the report and look for any signs of tampering, but added that he had asked PAT workers to “be ready for any call [for protest]”. Separately, the Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) has questioned the Punjab government’s decision not to take action against the police when after, according to the report, they deliberately ignored the chief minister’s call to “disengage” and continued with the operation to remove street barriers.

Mr Qadri presented his analysis of the report at a press conference on Wednesday afternoon, insisting that the report had clearly fixed responsibility of the killings in Model Town on June 17, 2014 on the chief minister, the law minister and certain other officials of the Punjab government.

He read out a part of the report’s conclusion in which the head of the inquiry commission had asked the Punjab government to empower it under “Section 11 of the Punjab Tribunals Ordinance” so that the commission could fix responsibility for the incident, but the government had refused to do so.

“Had the commission gone ahead and fixed responsibility beyond its terms of reference (TORs), the whole report could have been declared null and void,” Mr Qadri argued, and claimed that whatever was written in the report was enough to indict CM Sharif and Mr Sanaullah, as well as other officials of the provincial government. “The party has an attested copy of the report, but not the original one. We are trying to get the original copy as well and compare them to see if the one given to us has been tampered with or not,” he told the press. There was some doubt regarding an incorrect date on one of the pages, but the party was not in a position to claim that the report had been tampered with, he said.

The PAT and its lawyers have been studying the report and are expected to make a carefully crafted move, he said, adding: “We do not want to act in haste or jump to conclusions. The lawyers are studying it and the next course of action will be finalised in a joint meeting of the core committee and legal team. However, PAT’s workers should get ready for any kind of call. Even my container is ready. But we will not act in haste.”

He said, “Since I am also a student of law, today’s analysis of the report is my own. The report has clearly called Shahbaz Sharif a liar (referring to his orders to disengage).” Mr Qadri insisted that the police only did what they were told to do. The entire operation had political underpinnings, which, of course, were of the Sharifs’, not of the police. So, the responsibility is that of the Sharif brothers, he added.

Separately, PTI leaders Shafqat Mahmood and Mian Mahmoodur Rashid claimed in separate pressers that the Najafi report had exposed the Punjab government’s conspiracy which was aimed at using force to stop the PAT chief from holding a sit-in in Islamabad. The document carries reports from all departments which show that the removal of barriers was just an excuse, whereas the real intention was to intimidate PAT workers, they claimed.

“The chief minister had lied that he did not know about the firing incident. His house is so close to the spot, how could he feign ignorance?” Shafqat wondered. If the chief minister had actually ordered disengagement, why were his orders ignored by the police? The fact is that he only invented the term “disengagement” afterwards to save himself. The fact of the matter is that the entire planning and execution was overseen by Mr Sanaullah on behalf of the chief minister, he added.

“The firing took place on instructions of the chief minister and that is precisely why the report was not made public in the first place,” he said.

Mr Rashid questioned why the chief minister had not acted when his disengagement orders were ignored by the police. He termed it an end of the “writ of the government”.

They said that CM Sharif and Mr Sanaullah must quit, and criminal proceedings should be initiated against them.

Published in Dawn, December 7th, 2017