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LAHORE: A day after a multi-party conference (MPC) was held on Model Town killings, the Punjab government on Sunday said it was ready to extend cooperation to Pakistan Awami Tehreek (PAT) chief Dr Tahirul Qadri if his “prime purpose” was to seek justice in the matter.

The provincial administration also asked Sargodha-based cleric Pir Hameeduddin Sialvi to shun his demand for resignation of Punjab Law Minister Rana Sanaullah over the issue of his controversial statement about a minority community and offered to sit with him to redress his grievances. As the Dec 31 deadline for Mr Sanaullah’s resignation passed, Pir Sialvi said he would announce a course of action in the coming days.

Federal Climate Change Minister and PML-N information secretary Mushahidullah Khan, however, believes that since some ‘foreign forces’ are behind Dr Qadri’s renewed pledge to take to the streets on the pretext of not getting justice in the Model Town case, another attempt is in the offing to weaken the present set-up. Maryam Nawaz, daughter of disqualified prime minister Nawaz Sharif, is also smelling a new ‘conspiracy against democracy’ in the protest plan of Dr Qadri.

“Convergence of opposition parties on the issue of the Model Town incident is artificial and only for political gains. Can’t they wait for another five months and go into the election to see their popularity,” Mushahid­ullah Khan said. Talking to Dawn here on Sunday, he said why the 13 parties that attended the moot on the Model Town incident did not raise their voice on the killing of 269, 188 and 50 people in Baldia Factory Fire, Karsaz and May 12 Karcahi incidents, respectively.

Mushahidullah says 13-party alliance is aimed at stopping PML-N from coming to power again

“Basically this artificial alliance (of 13 parties) on this matter is aimed at targeting the PML-N government and stopping it from coming to power in the 2018 elections. But let me tell them... they will fail again like in the past,” the minister said.

“The Punjab government is willing to talk to Dr Qadri and extend full cooperation in securing justice for the victim families of Model Town killings. But if the purpose of MPC and Dr Qadri is to build up pressure for getting resignations (of Shahbaz Sharif and Rana Sanaullah) then let me make it very clear that this is not going to happen,” Punjab government spokesman Malik Mohammad Ahmad told Dawn.

“If the parties in the MPC are keen to do politics on this matter they should wait for another five months to see completion of the PML-N tenure. If the PAT has decided to hold a sit-in we will move the court as it disturbs badly the life of the common man,” he said.

The Punjab government is optimistic that this time round the Qadri-led sit-in in Lahore or elsewhere will also meet the same fate as the 2014 sit-in failed to achieve its purpose.

The 13-paty gathering at the PAT headquarters of Dr Qadri had the representation of Pakistan Peoples Party, Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf, Pakistan Muslim League-Q, Muttahida Qaumi Movement, Pak Sarzameen Party, Jamaat-i-Islami and Awami Muslim League of Sheikh Rashid. It extended a deadline for the resignation of CM Sharif and Rana Sanaullah to Jan 7 and for presenting themselves for accountability for their alleged role in the killing of 14 PAT workers in June 2014. On not meeting its main demand, ‘protest’ will be the ultimate choice left for Dr Qadri and company.

Malik Ahmad further said justice in the Model Town incident would be secured only through a court of law. The MPC has demanded constitution of a joint investigation team under a Supreme Court judge.

“Dr Qadri must present evidence in the court to get justice. Even he can submit Justice Najafi’s report if he thinks it is useful to get justice,” Mr Ahmad said.

He said the government was ready to address concerns of Pir Sialvi as he remained member of the PML-N. “Nothing can be achieved through agitation,” he added.

Published in Dawn, January 1st, 2018