LAHORE: A day after two federal ministers requested Dr Tahirul Qadri to drop his plan to stage another sit-in, Punjab Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif on Monday asked his political rivals to restrict their fight with the ruling PML-N to elections as Pakistan could not afford more lock-downs and sit-ins.
Visibly unhappy over the politics of agitation, the chief minister mentioned several times about the ‘menace of lock-downs and sit-ins’ during his speech he made after the inauguration of the first phase of the state of art Pakistan Kidney and Liver Institute and Research Centre (PKLI) on Bedian Road here.
On Sunday Interior Minister Ahsan Iqbal and Railways Minister Khawaja Saad Rafique had asked the Pakistan Awami Tehreek chief to move court to get justice instead of being used (by some people) to derail democracy on the issue of Model Town in which 14 people were killed in June 2014.
Dr Qadri, who not only has set a deadline for Shahbaz Sharif to resign till Dec 31 and present him for accountability for his role in the “killings”, is also mustering support of other mainstream parties like PPP, PTI and PML-Q to prepare for another round of protest over the issue after 2014 and this time probably in Lahore to weaken the power-base of the Sharifs.
Sargodha-based cleric Pir Hameeduddin Sialvi has also asked Shahbaz to get the resignation from law minister Rana Sanaullah on Dec 31 failing which he (Shahbaz) should resign. Sialvi has announced holding a protest rally in Lahore on Jan 4 if CM Sharif does not meet his demand.
In the back drop of these looming protests in Lahore, Shahbaz Sharif further said: “There will be no peace in the country through sit-ins. Nations are not made by lock-downs and sit-ins. Already the country’s economy suffered a lot because of sit-ins and lock-downs (a reference to PTI’s 126-day Islamabad sit-in). We cannot become choosers if we do not break the begging bowl which is only possible if we (political parties) shun our differences and develop the country through collective wisdom,” he said.
Shahbaz who is often critical of affluent class admitted that he also belonged to this. “I often talk about the affluent class that rulers the country and I am also among this but we must learn a lesson from the past and get united to serve the poor otherwise the people of this country will not forgive us.”
Shahbaz Sharif also regretted that the country we were living in was not the one Quaid-i-Azam Mohammad Ali Jinnah envisioned. “Let me tell you... if we could not make this country in accordance with the vision of the Quaid, a blood revolution would follow and nobody could stop it,” he said.
As he was highlighting the achievements of the PML-N government, MPA Waheed Gull rose from his seat and chanted ‘prime minister Shahbaz Sharif’. CM Sharif did not mind the slogan. A campaign by the Shahbaz camp is underway to win his nomination for the party’s prime minister candidate in 2018. There has been no official announcement from ousted premier Nawaz Sharif regarding who will be the party PM candidate in next year’s election.
The PKLI’s first phase has been completed at a cost of Rs20bn and Shahbaz Sharif termed it the first state of art kidney centre in South Asia. “This is my tribute to the Quaid on his birth anniversary,” he said, adding now the government would not have to send patients to neighbouring countries for treatment. “The poor will get free treatment and the rich will pay,” he added.
Published in Dawn, December 26th, 2017