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LAHORE: The three Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) members of the Punjab Assembly, who had announced their resignations at a Khatm-i-Nubuwat conference organised by Pir Hameeduddin Sialvi in Faisalabad on Sunday, submitted their formal resignations in writing to the assembly secretariat here on Tuesday.

Also, according to Pakistan Awami Tehreek (PAT) leaders, their chief Dr Tahirul Qadri is expected to announce a new push against the government of Punjab Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif on Wednesday (today).

MPAs Sahibzada Ghulam Nizamuddin Sialvi, Maulana Rehmatullah and Muhammad Khan Baloch dispatched their resignation letters to the Punjab Assembly speaker through special messengers. The documents were received by the assembly’s secretary Rai Mumtaz Hussain Babar, who said the legal procedure would be followed in processing the resignations.

Punjab MPAs who quit on Pir Sialvi’s call submit resignations

The three letters cited a singular reason for the resignations — the Punjab government’s refusal to remove Law Minister Rana Sanaullah from the provincial cabinet despite a “public” outcry against the minister’s comments.

Speaker Rana Muhammad Iqbal has said that he will invite each of the lawmakers separately to ascertain whether the decision to resign had been taken under pressure or of their free will. He has not shared the time frame for this.

Requesting anonymity, one of the MPAs, who resigned, said: “Our resignations will serve as the proverbial first drop of rain encouraging other dissidents among the PML-N ranks to come out into the open.” He added that frantic efforts were under way to make other lawmakers, who were spiritually affiliated with shrines in Punjab, to come forward and tender their resignations on Dec 17, when Pir Sialvi, the caretaker of the Sial Sharif shrine in Sargodha, will hold a public meeting in Gujranwala.

Last week, Pir Sialvi had claimed that at least 50 lawmakers of the PML-N would quit their respective seats in parliament to pressure the government to remove Mr Sanaullah from his position of law minister. However, only three MPAs and two MNAs — Nisar Jutt and Ghulam Bibi Bharwana — had ended up actually announcing their decision to resign from public office.

Separately, Dr Tahirul Qadri has been preparing a strategy to take on the Shahbaz Sharif government in Punjab. “Dr Qadri will announce a new agenda on Wednesday,” a senior PAT official told Dawn.

According to him, the PAT chief will demand that a new joint investigation team (JIT) be constituted to probe the Model Town tragedy along the lines of the investigation conducted in the Panama Papers case. There are two previous JITs — one headed by Additional IG Dr Arif Mushtaq and the other by DIG Abdul Razzaq Cheema — that had earlier investigated the incident in which 14 people were killed in a police raid on PAT offices in June 2014.

The PAT official said that Dr Qadri would announce a countrywide protest if his demands for the constitution of a new JIT, resignation of CM Sharif and Mr Sanaullah and suspension of officers accused in the Model Town case were not met within a “reasonable” time frame.

Published in Dawn, December 13th, 2017

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